Early this morning, Philippine police confirmed that the severed head found on the southern Philippine island of Jolo on June 13, was that of Canadian, Robert Hall.
Even before the confirmation, the family of the Canadian held hostage since September 2015, last week said they agree with the Canadian government’s policy of not paying ransom to terrorists.
“The DNA samples of the recovered head…matched the DNA profile of Hall submitted by the forensics laboratory of Canada,” Chief Superintendent Emmanuel Aranas, director of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory Service, said during a press briefing in Camp Crame in Quezon City today.
In recent weeks, the Philippine military had announced that it has stepped up its operations against Abu Sayyaf.
“… a decapitated head of a Caucasian-looking person was recovered beside Mt. Carmel Cathedral, Sanchez St, Brgy Walled, Jolo, Sulu placed inside a plastic bag after receiving information from a concerned citizen. Said decapitated head was turned-over to Trauma Station Hospital, Kampo Heneral Teodolo Bautista (KHTB) for proper disposition,” a report from the PNP said earlier this week. “This type of execution by evil groups on innocent people is very unfortunate and deserves the condemnation of civil society and every peace-loving citizens.”
Hall was one of the three foreigners snatched by Abu Sayyaf terrorists on September 21 last year in Samal Island. In April, fellow Canadian hostage, John Ridsel was also beheaded by his captors.
The fate of their hostages, Filipina, Mairtes Flor who is Hall’s wife, and Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian resort manager, are still unknown.
“…our family, even in our darkest hour, agrees wholeheartedly with Canada’s policy of not paying ransom to those who would seek to undermine the fundamental values with which my father lived his life,” the family of Hall said in a letter that also recounted his life and the values he held. “We stand with the ideals that built this country; strength of character, resilience of spirit, and refusal to succumb to the demands of the wretched, in order to satisfy the bloodlust of the weak.”
The terrorist group, with ties to the ISIL, were originally demanding P1 billion for each of their hostages. They had since lowered their demand to P600 million.
Following Ridsel’s beheading, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a strong condemnation of the murder but also stated that Canada will not pay any ransom to terrorists.
During an official visit to the Philippines in June, Trudeau also called on leaders of other nations to support Canada’s no-ransom policy.
“Please know that the efforts taken to free Robert were vast and exhaustive. Every option was considered, every contact was sought,” the Hall family statement said. “Ultimately, our efforts and those of the various governmental agencies involved weren’t enough.”
The family said Hall “loved everything about the Philippines.”
“The people, he said, are warm and gracious. He took an active interest in his community and his neighbours and coached a local soccer team. The port city of Davao, where he lived, was renowned for being one of the safest places in South East Asia. With its mild weather, friendly people and in the company of other expats, he knew that he had found his home,” the statement said.
To read the full statement, which appeared in the Globe and Mail, click here.