President Aquino vows relentless pursuit of Abu Sayyaf Group

MANILA -  President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the government will relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as it has strained the country’s relationship with its neighbors. 

Abu Sayyaf group. AFP FILE PHOTO
"Wala nang safe area (from the Abu Sayyaf); talagang kailangan walang tigil ang paghahabol sa kanila. At ‘yan ang ongoing ngayon," the President said during a media interview in Palo, Leyte, where he commemorated the 70th anniversary of the landing in the province of Allied forces led by General Douglas MacArthur during World War II. 

"Masyadong matagal nang problema itong Abu Sayyaf na ito… It affects our relationships with various neighboring states, na wala silang humpay at palagay ko naman dapat rin tapatan ng estado na walang humpay ang pagtugis sa kanila," he said. 

German nationals Viktor Stefan Okonek, 71, and Henrike Dieter, 55, were abducted by the group in April after their yacht broke down near the island of Palawan while en route to Sabah in eastern Malaysia. 

The couple was released last Friday (October 17) after a ransom was reportedly paid to ASG.

Asked by reporters if government funds were part of the ransom to free the German couple, the President replied: "Nothing came from the Office of the President. I can assure you that. I didn’t authorize anything from the Office of the President."

"Ang focus ko doon ay ‘yung Abu Sayyaf rather than the ransom. ‘Yon ang tinatrabaho ko together with the (Armed Forces) Chief of Staff, the Chief of the PNP (Philippine National Police), the SND (Secretary of National Defense), and the SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government)," he added.

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