Ewold Horn, 54, from Holland and Lorenzo Vinciguerra from Switzerland were abducted in February 2012 by Abu Sayyaf militants and suspected Moro National Liberation Front members in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town, Tawi-Tawi.
Vinciguerra escaped in 2014 after he allegedly killed one of his guards with a bolo.
Sulu police commander Pablo Labra said Horn had developed Stockholm syndrome, a condition where the captive starts feeling sympathetic toward his captors as a survival strategy. The term was coined in 1973, following a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden where the hostages defended the robbers and refused to testify in court.
“We received information that he has developed Stockholm syndrome and has been spotted carrying a weapon,” Labra told The Manila Times.
“We really don’t know if he has fought troops, but if he engages security forces and the lives of our troops are put in grave danger then we have no other recourse but to fight back,” he added.
Labra said police forces were continuing to search for Horn and captives and, at the same time, maintaining operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
Philippine authorities have blamed the Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State (IS) for suicide bombings that hit a cathedral in Sulu’s capital town of Jolo earlier this year.
The bombings occurred two years after hundreds of Abu Sayyaf and pro-IS militants and civilian supporters took over Marawi City in Lanao del Sur and were only forced out after a five-month siege.