DAVAO CITY, September 19, 2016 — President Rodrigo Duterte cited the efforts of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan in securing the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad from the Abu Sayyaf.
Sekkingstad was presented to the President by Dureza in Davao City on Sunday night following his release in Jolo on Saturday after a year in captivity.
“It was a long, long negotiation… They (negotiators) showed us we need time to succeed … to assure the hostage is alive and well,” Duterte told reporters.
Sekkingstad, for his part, expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” to the President, saying he is “happy to be alive and free.”
“It is a beautiful feeling,” he said.
Ambassador Erik Førner of the Royal Norwegian Embassy also thanked Duterte for his “outstanding help and commitment to secure the release of Sekkingstad even before he took office (as President).”
Sekkingstad’s home country, Norway, serves as host to the Philippine government peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP/NPA.NDFP).
The second round of peace talks is set to resume in Oslo next month.