By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines (AA) – The Philippines’ government confirmed Tuesday that Daesh-affiliated militants had beheaded a second Canadian hostage following the expiration of a ransom deadline.
Herminio Coloma Jr., outgoing secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, released a statement strongly condemning “the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall", and extending the presidential palace’s condolences to the victim’s family.
The confirmation comes after an Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Abu Raami, told local media Monday that they killed Hall after a 600 million peso ($13 million) ransom failed to be paid before their 3 p.m. (0100GMT) deadline.
Security forces later confirmed that the severed head of “a Caucasian looking male” was found near a cathedral in Jolo town of Sulu province -- an Abu Sayyaf stronghold -- and transported to their camp.
In April, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded another Canadian, Robert Ridsdel, who had been abducted from Samal island alongside Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor last September.
In Tuesday’s statement, Coloma said, “[w]e truly regret that our people’s cherished tradition of extending gracious hospitality toward foreign nationals has been marred by a small band of criminals whose despicable actions have been abetted by the extortion of ransom from their previous victims."
He added that for the past two months, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have waged continuing military and law enforcement operations "that have degraded the capability of our enemies and limited their movements".
"This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government’s resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry," Coloma underlined.
A Jolo-based police intelligence officer who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with media had told Anadolu Agency on Monday that Hall was beheaded by an Abu Sayyaf faction under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan somewhere in Sulu’s Talipao town.
Abu Sayyaf leader Sawadjaan has been blamed by authorities for the beheading of a Malaysian hostage in Sulu in November.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles-- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.