The threat of the Abu Sayyaf Group to behead two German captives is part of the ploy to raise the demand for ransom and hasten its payment.
This was the assessment of Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerreo, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command as he declared that government will not in any way yield to the ransom demand of the extremist group based in Mindanao.
The two Germans, 70-year-old Stepfan Victor Okonek and 55-year-old Herike Diesen, were seized by a group of armed men from their yacht while on their way to Sabah from Palawan in April this year.
The yacht was recovered later and police said that there were indications that they were forcibly taken. Robbery was ruled out since the cash and other personal valuables of the two foreigners were intact.
Police officials later confirmed that the two Germans are being held captive in Sulu.
A few days ago, a photo of two Germans surrounded by armed men was uploaded in the social media, with a threat of beheading in support of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
But Guerrero downplayed the threat to behead the Germans, saying it was all just about money.
“They are taking advantage of the international attention ISIS is getting so that the ransom would increase,” said Guerrero.
“All their activities are criminal in nature,” he added.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin declared that they have no intention to negotiate with the ASG which he described as a terrorist group.
“Confirmed ASG. We will not be intimidated,” said Gazmin in a text message to reporters when asked of the reaction of the beheading threat of the group.
Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief police information officer, would not give details on the status of the Germans but said they are also focusing on the issue.
“This is part of the continuing investigation of both the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” said Sindac.
The ASG has a history of beheading captives like in the case of American Guillermo Sobero in 2001.
The military, however, said that the ASG is a dwindling force—which started with the arrests and deaths of leaders like Khadaffy Janjalani and Galob Andang, alias Commander Robot.
The remaining ASG forces are led by Radullan Sahiron in Sulu and Furuji Indama in Basilan.