The claim of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte that all kidnap victims abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Mindanao since 2016 have been successfully rescued is false.
Duterte, the outgoing Davao City Mayor, issued the pronouncement as part of her reaction to the recent tweet of journalist Raissa Robles that opening up Mindanao to tourism will lead to a rise in kidnapping activities by the ASG. (Read story here: https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2022/06/fact-check-journos-tweet-on-mindanao-tourism-vis-a-vis-kidnapping-surge-lacks-context/)
“Since 2016, the kidnapping operations by ASG in Mindanao have been significantly reduced compared to the previous years — and the authorities have successfully rescued all victims,” the presidential daughter said in statement issued June 4. https://www.facebook.com/MayorIndaySaraDuterteOfficial/posts/934002954110583
Under the administration of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed power on 30 June 2016, not all kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, or those brought to the island, have been rescued by state security forces.
A MindaNews research yielded some of the rescued and killed kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf in the last six years as follows:
• Four Indonesians hostages were rescued in March 2021 by the military in Tawi-Tawi. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-security-idUSKBN2BD060 The four were among five Indonesians snatched by the group on 17 January 2020 off Tambisan in Malaysia. One of the five was killed by the Abu Sayyaf while trying to escape from the hands of his captors during a clash with soldiers months earlier. https://www.arabnews.com/node/1742926/world
• In September 2020, soldiers rescued Filipino-American Rex Triplitt, who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Zamboanga del Norte. https://www.philstar.com/nation/2020/10/01/2046487/zamboanga-del-norte-man-recounts-rescue-kidnappers-thanks-troops
• In November 2019, troops rescued British national Allan Arthur Hyrons, 70, and his wife, Wilma Paglinawan-Hyrons, after almost two months in captivity. They were seized by the ASG in Zamboanga del Sur and brought to Sulu where they were recovered by troops. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7726699/Kidnapped-Briton-reveals-Filipino-captors-threatened-behead-him.html
• In July 2017, Abu Sayyaf bandits beheaded two Vietnamese nationals, who were part of six Vietnamese seized the previous year off the waters of Basilan. Two of them were rescued while the two others were killed in separate encounters between soldiers and the bandits. https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/body-of-man-thought-to-be-vietnamese-sailor-kidnapped-by-abu-sayyaf-found-3682730.html https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/952802/remains-of-vietnamese-kidnap-victim-return-to-vietnam-vietnamese-abu-sayyaf-kidnapping-boat-captain-medina-tuan
• German hostage Jurgen Kantner was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in February 2017 after the deadline to pay their ransom demand lapsed. The bandits posted a gruesome video of militants killing the victim with a sharp knife. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/27/asia/philippines-german-behead-abu-sayyaf/index.html
Due to the sustained military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group, its strength has been weakened but not totally defeated, various sources said. https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/philippines/323-addressing-islamist-militancy-southern-philippines https://www.mindanews.com/business/2022/06/sulu-general-to-tourists-be-our-guests/ (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)
(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)