Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently issued orders to the country's armed forces to eliminate Abu Sayyaf, mistakenly revealed that they paid a ransom to the militant group for the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad. In what appeared to be a slip of the tongue, Duterte said 50m Philippines peso (£816,098, $1m) was paid to Abu Sayyaf.
The accidental revelation came when the president was addressing a news conference in his hometown of Davao City on Wednesday (24 August) night. He was answering queries about the recent beheading of an Abu Sayyaf captive in Sulu province.
So far, the Filipino government has maintained that it has a policy of not surrendering to kidnappers' demands. However, the latest revelation by the president himself has raised concerns about the country's stand against Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to international terrorist group Islamic State (Isis).
Journalists when asked Duterte whether he was aware of the beheading on Tuesday (23 August) in Sulu, he retorted: "If that's the one, then I will accuse the Abu Sayyaf of acting in bad faith. They have been paid 50,000 Philippine Pseso already." He then corrected himself and said the ransom amount was 50m Philippine peso, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Duterte apparently thought that the journalists were referring to the Norwegian hostage who has still not been released by Abu Sayyaf from captivity, while the question actually referred to the beheading of 18-year-old Patrick James Almodovar, who was abducted on 16 July from a village in Jolo Island in southwest Philippines. The boy was kidnapped by the Ajang-Ajang faction of Abu Sayyaf .
However, the president soon realised that he had disclosed a piece of information that should have been a secret, and immediately changed the course of the interaction by reasserting his resolve to fight the militant group. "Destroy them. Period," he said.
The president declined to divulge any more information about the ransom payment. When asked where the money came from, he only said: "Maybe from my bank."