Matina Enclaves, Davao City
September 18, 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presented to the media Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, the remaining kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), after 10 months of captivity in Sulu.

Sekkingstad was one of the four victims taken hostage by the ASG last November 2015 in Samal, Davao del Norte. The other three hostages were Canadians James Ridsdel and Robert Hall who were beheaded on April and June, and Filipina Marites Flor who was freed by the ASG on June 24.

Based on initial reports, Sekkingstad was released by his captors last Friday night (September 16) in Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu through the facilitation of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Commander Tahil Sali. According to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, the government took custody of Sekkingstad at around 2:00 pm on Sunday (September 18) after picking him up from the camp of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

In a statement, President Duterte commended Secretary Dureza, as well as MNLF Chairman Misuari, for the successful retrieval of Sekkingstad, asserting that the efforts belong to them, not to him.

“First of all, I would like to thank the efforts, the efforts beyond human patience of Secretary Dureza, and of course Nur Misuari, who all along assured us that he would need time but he would succeed,” the President said.

“I was just directing the traffic to go about the job and simply investing upon them the full authority to negotiate and see to it that nothing of the sort will happen again,” he added.

According to the President, with the threat of terror still lurking in Mindanao, he could not tell if it is fully safe in the region, saying that he needs more time to put everything in order, but the government is trying its best to keep the Philippines safe despite problems such as the series of kidnappings and drugs.

“Hopefully, in the fullness of God’s time, we would be able to establish really law and order in this country,” he said.

With the recent release of Sekkingstad, President Duterte considered this as the best thing that happened this week, fulfilling the promise of the country to Norway of bringing back the Norwegian hostage safely to them.

Aside from Sekkingstad, the ASG also released three Indonesians that they held captive last July 19 in Lahud Datu, Sabah. Secretary Dureza said that the Indonesians are now at the custody of the government of Indonesia.

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