MANILA, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Dutere on Tuesday apologized to the German government and the family of Juergen Kantner after the Philippines failed to save the German hostage from being beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf group.
"I am very sorry that the hostage, a national of your country has been beheaded ... But as I said, we tried. There was a massive operation going on," Duterte said adding that the government's air assets had even been tapped in the operations against Abu Sayyaf.
He said he, however, had to admit that the government operations had failed as the execution proceeded.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza confirmed on Monday the execution of 70-year-old Kantner, who was taken hostage late last year.
The yacht of Kantner was found adrift off Mindanao in November 2016. The body of a woman, later identified as Kantner's partner, Sabine Merz, was found dead on board the vessel with a bullet wound.
The president stressed that the Philippine government stands by its no-ransom policy.
"We have failed. There's nothing wrong in admitting a failure. But it's a matter of policy that we do not surrender to the demands of paying ransom. It will just increase the numbers," Duterte said.
He added that the military operations would continue as Abu Sayyaf is still holding other hostages, both foreigners and Filipinos. It is reported that the Abu Sayyaf is still holding about 27 hostages, including six Vietnamese.
"I would like to assure everybody that for as long as there is the violence being perpetrated, the Philippines will continue with its military operations," he said.
Duterte has said the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf group has links with the Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
He has ordered the military to launch an all-out offensive against the estimated 500 Abu Sayyaf bandits operating mostly in the hinterlands of southern Philippine provinces of Sulu and Basilan.