President Rodrigo Duterte received Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad in Davao City on Sunday night.
Now a free man, Sekkingstad, accompanied by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, was presented to the President following his release in Jolo after a year in captivity.
The President particularly cited the efforts of Secretary Dureza, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan for securing the Norwegian hostage's release.
"It was a long, long negotiation," the President said. "They (negotiators) showed us we need time to succeed to assure the hostage is alive and well."
An ecstatic Sekkingstad meanwhile expressed his "heartfelt" gratitude to the President saying he is "happy to be alive and free and it is a beautiful feeling."
Ambassador Erik Forner of the Royal Norwegian Embassy likewise thanked President Duterte for his "outstanding help and commitment to secure the release of Sekkingstad even before he took office (as President)."
Sekkingstad's release comes in such an auspicious time as his home country, Norway, serves as host to the Philippine government peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF. The second round of peace talks is set to resume in Oslo next month.
Source: Philippine Information Agency