MANILA-- "The Government stands firm on our no-ransom policy."
This was stressed by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella Wednesday after a German hostage held by the bandit group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) appealed to authorities to heed his captors' ransom demand to prevent his impending execution.
"The Government stands firm on our no-ransom policy. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has been directed to continue and intensify its military operations," the Palace official said.
"The government will continue efforts to safely rescue all hostages held by these terrorists. It is also working closely with the concerned local governments as well as other sectors to facilitate the safe rescue of Mr. Jurgen Kantner," Abella added.
Kantner's appeal was contained in a video posted on social media.
In the video, he asked authorities to heed his captors' PHP30-million ransom demand to prevent them from beheading him later this month.
The 70-year old German national said his execution has been set for February 26 at 3 p.m..
"If the money is not in the hands of the pirates at this time, they will behead me," Kantner said.
Kantner was kidnapped by the ASG bandits while his yacht "Rockall" was cruising off Sulu waters last November.
His companion, 56-year-old Sabine Mertz, was allegedly raped and killed by the bandits.
But despite Kantner's appeal, the AFP said the government is maintaining its policy against negotiating with terrorist groups and giving in to ransom demands.
On Tuesday, AFP public affairs office head Col. Edgard Arevalo said that payment of the ransom will further embolden the terrorists and give them more funds to buy the loyalty of the communities they are hiding in.
In the same vein, he said the government does not pay ransom or negotiate with terrorists.
Arevalo likewise stressed the military will exert all efforts to rescue Kantner from his ASG captors.
"We will exert all efforts to rescue him (Kantner), especially that we now have continuing operation against the ASG which has been yielding good outcomes, so we are still positive that we will be able to rescue him," Arevalo said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency