Filipino leader apologizes to Trudeau: report


SHIMA, Japan – A media report from the Philippines says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has received an apology from Filipino president-elect Rodrigo Duterte for the killing of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel.

The online report by Rappler says Duterte told a news conference he apologized to Trudeau on Tuesday when the Canadian prime minister called to congratulate him on his recent election victory.

The militants had been asking for a ransom payment in exchange for Ridsdel’s release before he was beheaded last month.

Another Canadian, Robert Hall, was kidnapped by the same group and is still being held hostage in the Asian country.

Trudeau is in Japan for a Group of Seven summit where he is expected to try to encourage Canada’s partners to join Ottawa in refusing to pay ransoms to kidnappers.

The Rappler report also says Duterte said Trudeau brought up the “universal declaration of human rights.”

“I’m following it — I said that we are partners, may we remain partners for all time,” Duterte said, according to Rappler.

“Please accept my apologies for the incident that resulted in the killing of your national and we will try our very best to make sure nothing of the sort will happen again.”

The report said Duterte described his nine-minute conversation with Trudeau as a “civil” one.

He also said he commended Trudeau for the protection of Filipino workers in Canada, Rappler reported.

“I am aware there are Filipinos, a lot of them, working there,” said Duterte.

“I am happy that they have found protection even in the labour laws.”

A spokesman for Trudeau confirmed that the prime minister spoke with Duterte, but declined to offer details of the call.

Cameron Ahmad says the Canadian government won’t comment or release any information that could compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.

Ahmad says the government’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens.

The militants released a video showing Ridsdel’s beheading, an American group that monitors jihadi websites said after his killing.

Ridsdel, 68, of Calgary, was one of four tourists — including Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor — who were kidnapped last Sept. 21 by Abu Sayyaf militants.

In a series of tweets, Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group cited the video as saying Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25 “due to non-compliance” of the Canadian government.

Ridsdel was beheaded after Abu Sayyaf militants made a large ransom demand for his release.

Trudeau has said Canada would never pay ransom for the release of hostages.

“Paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live work and travel around the world every single year,” Trudeau said earlier this month.

A senior official said at the time that the RCMP was conducting a criminal investigation into Ridsdel’s murder.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the ongoing hostage case, said the Mounties were relying on the extraterritorial provisions of the Criminal Code to pursue the overseas investigation.

The two Canadians, Sekkingstad, who is a permanent resident of Canada, and the Filipina woman were snatched from a marina.

Ridsdel’s body was found by villagers beside a dry creek in a mountain near Talipao town in Sulu province. Police recovered his head in Sulu’s Jolo town.