AFP: Reported ransom payment for freed Germans Abu’s ‘propaganda’ PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 October 2014 14:27

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Saturday denied any negotiation or payment of ransom for the release of two German nationals who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf off the coast of Palawan last April.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc denied the claim of Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ramii that his group released the victims upon payment of ransom.

“He can claim that... that may be a propaganda,” Cabunoc said.

“We put pressure on them, that’s why we deployed a K9 unit, special operations troops, and snipers... If anyone paid, we don’t [know] from the side of the Germans. Whats definite is that we did not negotiate with them (Abu Sayyaf),” he added.

Earlier, the bandit group threatened to kill one of the two hostages at 3 p.m. last Friday. They demanded a ransom of P250 million.

Aside from the money, the Abu Sayyaf also demanded that the military withdraw from Sulu and that the German government stop its support for a US-led campaign against the militant Islamic State.

The two hostages were kept in a remote area in Sulu.

Earlier on Friday, the group said it will extend their afternoon deadline by two hours if they receive word that ransom will be paid.

The two Germans, Stefan Victor Okonek and Henrike Diesen, were later released unharmed, the AFP confirmed Friday night. They were found at a checkpoint in Patikul, Sulu and are now in military custody.

Self-proclaimed Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami  had said in a live interview over RMN Radio that they freed the two German nationals after receiving in full the P250 million ransom.

Operations vs. ASG continue

Meanwhile, Cabunoc said that while the two Germans have been released, pursuit operations against the bandit group is still ongoing.

“An encounter may take place anytime. They (government troops) have been in pursuit. We have K9 units. We are just avoiding, in keeping with the directive of (AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang), civilians to be hurt because they (Abu Sayyaf) usually mingle with the civilians,” he said.

“We are pursuing them and our deployment is full scale. The AFP chief wanted to show that the Armed Forces made the deployment not just for the purpose of rescuing the Germans. We are thinking about the 10 other hostages as well,” he added.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding up to 10 other hostages, including two European birdwatchers captured in February 2012.

Malacañang said yesterday the government continues to observe its no-ransom policy, in response to reports that ransom was paid to secure the release of two German hostages by the Abu Sayyaf group.

“There is no change in the ‘no ransom’ policy of the government,” Malacanang Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in statement.

“We thank the government of the Philippines for their close collaboration, undertaken with full confidence,” the German foreign ministry spokesman said in press statement.

Coloma said the government is still “determining details of their (hostages’) rescue.”

He added that with the hostages freed, security forces would continue pursue operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

“With the release from captivity of the two German nationals, our security forces will continue efforts to stem the tide of criminality perpetrated by bandit elements,” Coloma said.