MANILA – Philippine President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte has apologized 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.
Duterte, 71, 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 to the killing of your national,” Duterte said on Thursday he told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who called him up to congratulate him on his election win.
“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. 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 Duterte was mayor for two decades.
The Abu Sayyaf gave the Philippine and Canadian governments and families of the captives until 3 p.m. on June 13 to pay 300 million pesos ($6.43 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.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he is looking forward to a gender-sensitive Cabinet patterned after the lineup of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
We want a young cabinet, we are also sensitive with regards to the gender issue like Canada, ideally we would like to follow Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet in Canada.
Trudeau formed the first ethnically diverse Canadian Cabinet with an equal number of men and women. The ministers, 15 men and 15 women, were mostly aged under 50.
Duterte’s spokesperson Peter LaviÃ±a said in a press conference on Friday, Duterte is also looking forward to having Cabinet members from ethnic groups and social sectors.
Duterte’s spokesperson said the committee is looking for Cabinet members who have shared vision with the mayor, as well as “integrity, ability or capacity and (willingness to) sacrifice.”
Duterte’s spokesperson noted that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) might also be considered to be members of the next Cabinet.
“The best and the brightest throughout the country and our brothers and sisters abroad, OFWs. Maraming talents that left the country. If they are willing to return, sacrifice for the next six years, of course we would welcome them,” Duterte’s spokesperson said.