DAVAO CITY, Sept. 19 (PNA) — President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to end kidnapping activities by the Abu Sayyaf as he lauded the safe release of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad on Saturday afternoon.
“I will see to it that nothing of sort will happen again,” Duterte said after Sekkingstad was presented to him by Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza at the Matina Enclaves here on Sunday night.
“Your travails in life are over,” Duterte told Sekkingstad, adding he would give him justice if he wants to.
While he could not assure if Mindanao remains a safe place, the President said his administration is trying its best to put order in the country.
“We are wrought with so many problems… terrorism, drugs are pulling us down,” he said. The President was also hopeful that his administration will be able to establish law and order in the country.
The President lauded the efforts exerted by Dureza on the safe release of Sekkingstad saying, “it is beyond human patience.”
The President also thanked Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari, who asked for more time to negotiate for Sekkingstad’s release, and former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan.
“It was a long negotiation. I was talking to Misuari during Cabinet meetings,” he said.
Duterte said all efforts to assure Sekkingstad will be recovered alive and well belongs to Misuari, Tan, and Dureza.
He also took the opportunity to thank the Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner for his country’s contribution to the Philippine peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines- National Democratic Front.
Førner also recognized Duterte’s effort to save Sekkingstad even before he officially assumed as president.
“Your commitment has been crucial even before you assume office,” he told the President.
Førner also thanked the police and security forces, other individuals that helped secure Sekkingstad.
Sekkingstad also thanked Duterte, Dureza, Misuari, and Tan for their efforts to get him out of captivity.
“I am happy to be alive and free. It’s a beautiful feeling,” he said.
He was also thankful for the help of other people, the Norwegian Embassy and family.
Sekkingstad and three others was taken hostage by armed men from the high-end marina resort in the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21, 2015.
The other two foreigners — Canadians James Ridsdel and Robert Hall — were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf separately in April and June while Filipina Marites Flor was released last June 24 after negotiations by Dureza with the help of Tan.
Dureza said Sekkingstad was freed by the Abu Sayyaf on Saturday afternoon somewhere in Patikul, Sulu. He fetched Sekkingstad from Jolo to Davao on Sunday afternoon.
Dureza was supposed to fly out Sekkingstad on Saturday but bad weather and nightfall prevented them to leave Sulu. Dureza said Sekkingstad stayed overnight at the place of Misuari in Barangay Kagay.
Misuari volunteered to host Sekkingstad’s stay due to heavy rains and nightfall, Dureza said.
According to Dureza, Misuari’s men, Tan and other volunteers helped in the release of Sekkingstad.
Dureza said Sekkingstad’s release from captivity capped months of quiet, patient, but determined efforts with the assistance of all sectors.
Last month following the beheading of an 18-year-old hostage minor, the President said the ASG could not kill Sekkingstad because P50 million was paid for his “board and lodging” and supposed release last July. He was not released after the Abu Sayyaf asked for additional money.
The beheading of the minor prompted Duterte to order anew the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to seek out the lair of the ASG and “destroy them”.
The President said the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping activities is the reason why he is sending more troops to Jolo, Sulu to destroy all the enemies of the state. The President vowed his war against the Abu Sayyaf would be harsh. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)