PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday raised the prospect of holding talks with terrorists who are not hardliners.
Speaking before members of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade of the Philippine Army in Iligan City, City, Lanao del Norte, Duterte said he had directed lawyer Abdullah Mamao, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers, to send this “message” to the other side.
“My message mainly to the terrorists on the other side is kung madala pa natin ito ng usapan [if we can still talk about this]. ‘Yung talagang out na out na terrorista na [The hard line terrorists] and if you cannot be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Away na lang tayo [Let’s fight],” he said.
Duterte reiterated that the government faced a “formidable enemy” in the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), which, he said, wants to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia spanning Mindanao, Indonesia, Malaysia “and maybe Brunei.”
“So you can say that the ISIS is here already. The fact that they were flying the flags. So that’s our problem now. And you’re going to fight, I have to fight every day until this conflict is dissolved,” he said.
His camp visit came three days after he declared martial law in Mindanao following the attack by the Maute group in Marawi City.
The President said his marching order to the troops was to eliminate all those found carrying unauthorized weapons who “fight back.”
“But if they want to talk, I would be most thankful to Allah (God) na mag-usap tayo ng kapayapaan [that we will talk peace]. Kung maglaban sila, wala tayong magawa [If they fight, we can’t do anything]. Go for it, at may full support kayo sa akin [and you have my full support],” the President added.
He said he was “scraping the bottom of the barrel” to make sure the troops have everything they need to fight the terrorists.
“I am here to say to you, fight and I will pray for you and I will answer for everything. ‘Wag na kayo mag-alala [Don’t worry]. During martial law, your commanders, you can arrest any person, search any house, wala ng [no need for a]warrant,” Duterte said.