Remains of beheaded German found in Sulu
The Philippine government forces have recovered the remains of the German national who was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf group last February 26.
This as Malacanang vowed to punish the Abu Sayyaf bandits responsible for the death of Juergen Gustav Kantner, whose remains were recovered in the interiors of Sitio Talibang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu on Saturday night.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government is "deeply saddened but resolved as ever to respond to the recent discovery of Kantner's remains.
He said the government extends sympathies to the family of Kantner, as well as to the rest of German people, and assured them that these mindless acts will be punished.
"President Duterte has declared time and again that terrorism is the twin scourge of narco-politics, and that this government will leave no stone unturned in squarely addressing the evils of extremism and plain banditry," he said.
Capt.Jo-Ann Petinglay, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said at around 6 in the evening on Saturday, the elements of Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 under the Task Force Sulu recovered Kantner's body.
Joint Task Force Sulu commander Col. Cirilito Sobejana said they had a hard time looking for Kantner's body since it also resulted to engagements with the terrorist group.
"It wasn't easy looking for him, because we encountered the Abu Sayyaf kidnap group and that encounter resulted to the wounding of 29 from my ranks. And the rebels had more casualties," he said in a television interview.
He immediately requested for the PNP's Scene of the Crime Operations to conduct site preservation for evidence and post-mortem procedures in the area where they found the cadaver.
Sobejana congratulated his team for their hard work in retrieving the German's remains.
Kantner's body was brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital Morgue for documentary processing before being flown to Germany.
Western Mindanao Commander Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez said they will coordinate with the appropriate offices for the disposition of Kantner's remains.
"Once again, the command is sending its deep regrets to the family for not being able to rescue Mr. Kantner on time and deepest sympathy to his family," he said.
He added the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the entire Westmincom will maximize all efforts and means to rescue the remaining hostages.
During search and retrieval operation, about two dozens of troops were wounded in series of encounters with the terrorist group. At least 16 Abu Sayyaf members were also killed, six were wounded and four were apprehended.
On February 26, the Abu Sayyaf led by sub-leader Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami executed Kantner for failure to pay the P30 million ransom they demanded in exchange for the German's life.
Department of National Defense public affairs chief Arsenio Andolong on Thursday said based on their latest record the Abu Sayyaf Group are still holding a total of 31 kidnap victims.
“On the breakdown we have 12 Vietnamese, six Filipinos, one Dutch, seven Indonesians and five Malaysians, 31 all in all,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS