Duterte won’t risk civilians in Sayyaf war


PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has an explanation on why the military can’t immediately defeat kidnapping and terrorist group Abu Sayyaf: He can’t carpet-bomb Sulu and kill innocent people.

Duterte made the statement Saturday night, a day after signaling openness to negotiating a truce with the Islamic State-linked terror group that had kidnapped and beheaded foreigners who were unable to raise ransom money.

Duterte said he was asked the question by reporters during a visit to wounded soldiers in Zamboanga City on Friday.

“The media asked me, this is your sixth time to visit the wounded and those soldiers who died. When will you end Abu Sayyaf? I told them, ‘What do you want?’ I mean, I could do it, I could burn Jolo now, I could bomb the place,” Duterte said, referring to the capital of Sulu, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

“And in the mountains, I can order the military to do carpet-bombing, tell them that nobody should be left standing. Do you want me to do that? And if I kill children and innocent people and all, can we survive as a nation?” he said in remarks during a reunion of his alma mater, the San Beda College of Law in Taguig City.

NO. 1 CRITIC, SUPPORTER President Rodrigo Duterte and former president Fidel Ramos bump their fists during the reunion of the San Beda College of Law in Taguig City on Saturday. Duterte described Ramos, who has criticized his anti-American stance, as ‘my No. 1 critic and No. 1 supporter.’ MALACAÑANG PHOTO

NO. 1 CRITIC, SUPPORTER President Rodrigo Duterte and former president Fidel Ramos bump their fists during the reunion of the San Beda College of Law in Taguig City on Saturday. Duterte described Ramos, who has criticized his anti-American stance, as ‘my No. 1 critic and No. 1 supporter.’ MALACAÑANG PHOTO

Duterte claimed he had more soldiers to deploy amid peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

“It’s easy. I could call the helicopters and order them to drop rockets all over the place and I report to you, ‘We scored a victory today,’ and we will do it again tomorrow. How would it appear? Human rights violation? It’s war,” Duterte argued.

No ideology
On Friday, Duterte told the Abu Sayyaf: “We cannot be forever treating human beings here, seriously wounded … Let us talk. Let us give our people a chance.”

The government is already observing a ceasefire with the region’s largest Muslim guerrilla force, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Earlier this year Duterte had said he could not talk peace with the Abu Sayyaf because they were not driven by ideology.

Many analysts say the Abu Sayyaf is mainly focused on running a kidnapping business rather than religious ideology.

However, Duterte conceded that military strikes on militants could prove devastating for civilians living in remote islands where the militants are embedded. “I can bomb more if I want to,” Duterte said.

“At the end of the day, what can I say to the Filipino? That we have wiped out almost all of our Yakan, Sama, Tausug (Muslim ethnic groups) brothers? Even those not connected with the violence now?”

Duterte added: “Either we talk, if you want autonomy or if you want something else, federalism, I am ready. I am committed to [a]federalism set-up to appease the Moro,” he said, using a general term for Filipino Muslims.

The Abu Sayyaf, designated a “foreign terror organization” by the United States, was set up with the help of the Al-Qaeda group in the early 1990s.

The militants have publicly pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq in recent months, though some security analysts consider them a bandit group motivated only by money.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed a German sailor and abducted her elderly male companion from their yacht earlier this month. They are also holding a Dutchman abducted in 2012.

In recent months, the Abu Sayyaf has been accused of kidnapping dozens of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in waters off the southern Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf militants this year beheaded two Canadian hostages after demands for millions of dollars were not met.

Talk, not fight
Duterte also said he would rather talk to, rather than fight, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces under the command of Nur Misuari.

The Duterte government had sought the lifting of Misuari’s arrest warrants in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga City siege that left at least 200 people dead and 10,000 homes destroyed, to let the MNLF join peace negotiations with its rival the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“At least, Misuari is out. You may grant that he was a criminal of sorts because of the Zamboanga siege. But if you don’t let him surface…he’s sick. If he comes out, is jailed and dies in our custody for whatever reason, then we will no longer have any peace at all. You might as well prepare the children to say you have to deal with these wars,” Duterte said.

“He (Misuari) is old, he will not run away, he cannot run away. It’s impossible. The warrant won’t save us amid conflict. We are trying to avoid the war,” Duterte added.



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  1. Trust the President and the military because they are one who is there. Negative thinking and commenting about their WORDS won’t help them and every Filipino. Only the military has the right to judge their Commander-in-Chief in his ACTIONS related to national security. Start to learn the difference between actions and words, reality and imagination. Judge actions not words based on reality not on corrupt imaginations.

  2. There will always be kidnappings /beheading,Ransom,terrorism because of Muslim Mindanao Philippines Abu Sayff they will always have control there. Abu Sayff loves to kidnap ,torture and behead foreigners. Do not go to that Country. That is not a place of business or to visit. Your risking your life. The Philippines has no Control of the Abu Sayff.

  3. Ay, Sus! Tatay Digong, Comando style lang yan. Train the best of the best in the philippines pati na yung supporting fire power nila. Be careful, any plan should not be compromise that means pati loyalty ay piling pili. Drop them suddenly where the abu sayyaf are spotted and pull them out immediately when the Abu’s are already using civilians. Let them go against those known members of the Abu Sayyaf and Kill them one by one. Haaaaaay! mamamatay ako sa kunsumisyon.

  4. The Administration does not have an strategy to defeat the ABU SAYAF. The war on terror should be given the same intensity if not more ,same as against the drug menace. Duterte is very inconsistent . Is he waiting for the ISIS to join the ABU SAYAF

    • And I suppose you have a plan on how to defeat ASG? If you really knew how to defeat them, how come you continue hiding in your house in Metro Manila! Why aren’t you in Sulu where ASG is most active?

    • marcelo, why not apply as military consultant rather than suggesting result without recommendation on how to do it. of course, plan or strategy is available but the civilian factor is a cause of delay. it’s a fact and patience is required.

  5. Excuses, excuses, excuses, the know it all President. Before opening your mouth, you should consult your generals who are working on the fields, they know how. They only do, what you want them to do, Just tell them what you want to happen and that’s their job to find a way to accomplish their missions. This is another flip flop, trial and error, it cost the tax payers lives and money.

    • tokayo, why not go to jolo and advise the generals to do your plan if you have. otherwise, you’re the same as du30, talking, talking, talking…do you think du30 didn’t do what you had written here?

    • Funny thing is Pres. Duterte keeps traveling from North to South visiting Military Camps and checking up with the officers and injured.

      What makes you think he does not have a meeting with said military officers?

      He isnt like Abnoy Aquino playing XBOX at malacanang palace while police and soldiers are dying.