PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to help equip the Philippines’ armed forces as he ordered “full-press” military operations against terror organizations in Mindanao, particularly the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).
In a news conference late Sunday after a command conference with the military and police in Malacañang, Duterte said he had sent an “urgent message” to China to help his administration by providing “precision-guided arms.”
“The situation in Mindanao, as you know the greatest danger now that mankind is facing is really extremism…
The [IS] is recruiting everybody. The [IS, as they said], come hell or high water, they will establish the caliphate,” Duterte told reporters.
Duterte said he had authorized the use of all government resources to neutralize terrorist groups, particularly those that had taken over the town of Butig in Lanao del Sur.
Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is now the “top honcho” of IS in the Philippines, Duterte said. “He is billeted somewhere in Lanao and we have a full-time military operation there,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Hapilon was badly wounded in an air strike during military operations that killed at least 15 extremists and an Indonesian.
Duterte admitted he was afraid of the Islamic extremists since they had detonated improvised explosives “several times” in his home city of Davao.
“They kill without compunction. They don’t even differentiate between children and women… So, it’s a mass insanity,” he said.
But Duterte clarified the situation in Lanao did not warrant the imposition of martial law.