THE Philippines’ air assets will be used for the first time to boost the military’s campaign to crush the Abu Sayyaf bandits, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday.
He made the statement as he apologized to the German government and to the German people after their fellow German Jurgen Gustav Kantner was executed by the terrorists on Sunday after the deadline passed to pay the P30-million ransom they had been demanding.
“For the first time, we [will be] using air assets [that we did not use before because of] the problem of collateral damage,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview on Tuesday.
Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año said the forces tasked to rescue Kantner actually chanced on a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits holding him during the critical hours before his beheading, but the bandits escaped in the nick of time.
Foreign Affairs on Tuesday condemned “in the strongest terms” the beheading of Kantner, who was executed three months after he was kidnapped in Southern Mindanao.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is greatly saddened by the death of Mr. Juergen Gustav Kantner,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms this cruel and inhuman act by the Abu Sayaf Group.”
Ozamis Archbishop Martin Jumoad said Kantner’s execution was a “sad moment for all people who respect and value life.”
“When does God’s justice fall upon them so that they may see the light? Are they really believers of one God or money is the one they adore?” Jumoad said.
Duterte insisted on the need to improve on the military’s night-flying capability to track down the terrorists.
“Well, we need equipment. Until such time that we have the fast boats, the eight remaining frigates or whatever, that was ordered from Japan, but we paid for it, actually ... and we plan to purchase more helicopters,” Duterte said.
“The numbers, I would not want to tell you now but I have to improve on our night-flying capability. We’re nearing to it.”
In a speech before alumni of the Philippine Military Academy during their homecoming earlier this month, Duterte told the security forces to use all government resources to protect Mindanao from the Abu Sayyaf.
“The Sulu-based ASG is focused on kidnap-for-ransom. The Basilan-based ASG under [Isnilon] Hapilon remains focused on assimilating the IS violence today,” Duterte said.
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