ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) – The severed head of a Canadian national was found in front of the municipal town hall in Jolo, Sulu Monday, the deadline set by the Abu Sayyaf for payment of ransom for the release of three foreigners and a Filipina who were abducted on September 21 from a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal.
Supt. Julpikar Sitin, Jolo police chief, told MindaNews that at around 7:30 in the evening, a plastic cellophane was thrown by two unidentified individuals riding in tandem towards a group of young men about to play basketball at the corner of Mayor Salih Yusah and Sari Ahmad Isnani streets in Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.
The unknown riders, described by bystanders as being in their late 20s with long curly hair, were on board a single wave motorcycle, and fled towards the east direction. The police’s attention was immediately called.
Sitin said Scene-of-the-Crime Operatives (SOCO) found inside the plastic cellophane a Caucasian’s head, which SOCO positively identified as belonging to Canadian kidnap victim John Ridsdel. He added the head was brought to Camp Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Busbus, Jolo, for proper disposition.
In a statement, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “outraged” by the news that a, Ridsdel was killed.
“Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers, and this unnecessary death. This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage.
Ridsdel was Senior Vice President and Chief Executive officer of the TVI Resource Development from August 2008 to April 2011 and later served as President of TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., with main office in Pasig City but with business interests in Mindanao.
He was abducted from the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort in Barangay Camudmud, Babak district in the Island Garden City of Samal at around 11:30 p.m. on September 21, with KjartanSekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian; and another Canadian named Robert Hall, 50 and his Filipina partner Teresita Flor.
Military intelligence sources told MindaNews Ridsdel was executed at around 3:45 p.m. in the forested vicinity in Lower Sinumaan, Patikul, Sulu, in front of his fellow captives, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstand, 56; Canadian national Robert Hall, 50 and his Filipina partner Teresita Flor mid-afternoon Monday.
Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan of the Abu Sayyaf had warned in a video posted on youtube on April 15 that they would kill one of the hostages at 3 p.m. on April 25, if the ransom demand of 300 million pesos is not paid by April 25. An earlier deadline was set for April 8.
The sources said the execution was carried out by the Abu Sayyaf’s Ben Totoh Sawadjaan.
A video uploaded on youtube on April 15, showed the two Canadian nationals, machetes pressed against their necks, appealing to the governments of Canada and Philippines for help.
“We’re told that this is the absolute final warning so this is a final urgent appeal to governments, Philippine, Canadian, and families” to heed their captors’ demand or “they will behead me,” said Ridsdel then.
The Abu Sayyaf demanded C$8.3 million (PhP 306 million at current rate of PhP 36.9 to a dollar) for Ridsdel alone, and a total of C$28 million (PhP 1.03 billion) for all the four victims abducted in Samal.
About 28 captives are reportedly still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf including Ridsdel’s three companions, 22 among whom are foreigners.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla earlier discouraged ransom payment, as this encourages the Abu Sayyaf to demand more from all other victims.
In his statement, Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau also said the Canadian government “is committed to working with the Government of Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice.”
“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Ridsdel. They have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them. Our thoughts are with them as they come to terms with this loss, and I would ask that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time.”
He said Canada’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens and the government “will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.”
Reports said the Abu Sayyaf under Ben Tatoh and AlmujerYadah headed back to Talipao town in Sulu, which is covered by the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1. But in a text query for Col. Noel Beleran, the commanding officer, MindaNews was informed that they are still verifying the information on the presence of the Abu Sayyaf sub-group in Talipao.
Earlier, the Patikul municipal police reported an armed encounter on April 22 with the 62nd Marine Company under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 10 and the sub-group of HairullaAsbang, with more or less 100 armed members, at the vicinity of Bud Tanum. The firefight, which ensued for about an hour, resulted to seven wounded soldiers and an undetermined number from the ASG. Wounded were PFC Allan Guingayan, Sgt. Rodguer Bilbao, Corporals Dennis Buella, JonathnaNatividad, Philip Jaravilla, Michael Galdoel, and Jestlie Allan Tangosan. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)