DAVAO CITY, Philippines —- Following the beheading of German national Juergen Kantner on Sunday by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu, the Department of National Defense has vowed once again to go after the ASG with the “full force of the law.”
In a statement to the press, DND Sec. Delfin Lorenzana through DND Public SEDir. Arsenio Andolong, apologized to the family and loved ones of Kantner, along with the promise of retribution.
“What we can assure them and the whole world is that we are going after these animals with the full force of the law. Make no mistake, they will feel the wrath of the entire Filipino nation through the might of its armed forces,” Lorenzana said in a press conference on Thursday.
The Army, however, has already deployed 8,000 soldiers since August of last year to the areas of Basilan and Sulu, the bailiwick of ASG’s operations.
When asked why foreign nationals continue to be abducted despite the concentration of the Army in areas where the ASG operate, Andolong said many of these victims had been “persistent” despite advisories by the government.
“Most of them were in the area and naging target. Despite the advisories by the governments some of them are persistent in going there kaya na-tiempohan sila. Most of them were in the [areas of Basilan and Sulu] and became targets. Despite the advisories by the governments, some of theme are persistent in going there that’s why the [ASG] chanced upon them), Andolong said.
Andolong cited the case of Mr. Kantner, who had already been abudcted once by Somali pirates in 2008 but had been freed after his ransom had been paid. Kantner was then sailing in his boat, the Rockall when he was abducted by Somali pirates.
“Itong nangyari kay Mr. Kantner, from what I understand, naging maswerte na sila at hindi sila hinabol eh, but I cannot go much farther than that” (What happened to Mr. Kantner, from what I understand, is that they were already lucky because they were not chased. But I cannot go much further than that), Andolong said.
Kantner was sailing in the same boat along the waters of Southern Philippines when he as abducted. His boat was found drifting on Nov. 7 of last year, with the body of his wife, Sabine Merz.
Kantner’s body was yet to be found. Andolong said it could be the ASG was not yet able to dispose of the body.
“From what I understand, they are on the move and I think that it’s problematic on their part to dispose of the body,” Andolong said.
There are currently 31 hostages, 12 of which are Vietnamese, six are Filipinos, seven Indonesians, a Dutch and five Malaysians.
Andolong also called on the communities to stop supporting the ASG and cooperate with the government’s efforts to eliminate the group.
“The secretary is calling on the public, the community leaders to stop supporting these terrorist bandits, because from what we do understand may mga ibang tumutulong sa kanila (there are some who are helping them),” Andolong said.
“Without going into the details, yun’ ang problema. May mga support structures din sila among the public. That has to be addressed,” Andolong added. (davaotoday.com)