Updated: June 14, 2016 10:21 AM GMT
Philippine troops patrol the streets of Jolo in the province of Sulu where Abu Sayyaf terrorists killed Canadian hostage Robert Hall on June 14. (Photo by Vincent Go)
A Catholic bishop has backed the Philippine government's policy not to pay ransom for hostages despite a terror group in the south beheading a Canadian captive on June 13.
"[Paying ransom] will just encourage criminals. No ransom, no hostage taking," said Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel in Mindanao region.
The Abu Sayyaf group, which claims to have links with the group calling itself Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, announced it beheaded Canadian national Robert Hall after its ransom demands were not met.
Security forces recovered a severed head, believed to be Hall's, in Jolo town late on June 13 , hours after the Abu Sayyaf announced the beheading.
Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the head was placed in a plastic bag and left outside the gate of the town's Catholic cathedral.
The Abu Sayyaf abducted Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Filipina Marites Flor, and another Canadian John Ridsdel from a resort on Samal Island in Davalo del Norte province on Sept. 27, 2015.
The hostages were later taken to Sulu province where Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25.
In a video released last month, the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead Sekkingstad if authorities failed to pay US$6.5 million for each victim by 3 p.m. on June 13.
Abu Sayyaf group spokesman Abu Raami said in a statement on June 14 that the group killed Hall instead.
Bishop Gutierrez said the government should deter tourists, especially foreign nationals who are often the target of kidnappers, from visiting the southern part of the country.
"No visitors, no hostages. Regulate visits," the prelate said.
Bishop Gutierrez appealed to Philippine authorities to immediately secure the lives of the remaining hostages.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao urged Catholics to pray for those responsible for the "horrendous act."
"Our initial reaction is anger but as Christians we pray for those who were responsible for this horrendous act," he said, adding the "love will melt and destroy evil."
'Not what Islam stands for'
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao condemned Hall’s killing, calling it "pointless violence and terrorism."
"This is not what Islam stands for, and we refuse to let this turn us against our fellow Filipinos — not at a time when Ramadan teaches us sympathy, compassion, and love," said Hataman in a statement.
The Muslim governor said it is "appalling" that the holy month of Ramadan "has already been violated by extremists."
He said "those who tread the path of violence and claim to do it in the name of Islam are, without question, merely men of sin …. They are not our people."
The governor called on Muslims to sure that those responsible for the abductions and beheadings in the region "are made accountable to our people in the courts of law."
The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council for having ties to al-Qaeda.
The Philippine military estimates the Abu Sayyaf group has about 300 to 400 men, mostly in Basilan and Sulu provinces in Mindanao.
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