Duterte apologises for beheading of Canadian held by Abu Sayyaf militants

Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference in Davao City.
Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference in Davao City.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has apologised to the Canadian prime minister for the beheading of a Canadian by an Islamist militant group, saying he would try to make sure "nothing like this" happens again.

Mr Duterte told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this when the latter called him to congratulate him on his election win.

The 71-year-old has yet to be declared winner of the May 9 election, but an official vote count shows him six million votes ahead of his closest rival, in part because of his campaign of crushing crime, corruption and drug abuse.

"Please accept my apologies for the incident that resulted in the killing of your national," he told Mr Trudeau. "We will try to see to it that nothing like this will happen again."

Canadian John Ridsdel, a former mining executive, was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf on the southern island of Jolo on April 25. Mr Trudeau at the time called it "an act of cold-blooded murder".

Another Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman are still being held captive by the Al Qaeda-linked militants eight months after they were abducted in a upscale resort near Davao City, where Mr Duterte was mayor for two decades.

The Abu Sayyaf gave the Philippine and Canadian governments and families of the captives until 3pm on June 13 to pay 300 million pesos (S$8.8 million) for the release of each of the captives.

Abu Sayyaf is also holding other foreigners, including one from the Netherlands, one from Japan and four Malaysian tugboat crew.