BAGUIO CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday ordered government forces to contain adherents of the jihadist militant group Islamic State (IS) in the country.
In remarks during the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumni homecoming in Fort del Pilar, Duterte said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been pursuing two factions of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which is being linked to IS through its leader Isnilon Hapilon.
“I have directed the AFP and PNP to continuously contain the [IS] threat, to intensify operations using all available assets and resources. This is the only way to secure Mindanao,” Duterte said.
“The Sulu-based ASG is focused on kidnap for ransom. The Basilan-based ASG under Hapilon remains focused on assimilating the IS-violent trait. As I predicted, IS would find its way to the Philippines,” he added.
Duterte said Hapilon was “severely injured” after a military air assault operation in Butig, Lanao del Sur last January.
The operation came after the President named Hapilon as the “top honcho” of IS in the Philippines.
The President called on the support of government forces “not for social control but protection [of]the citizens from the lawless, the reckless and the selfish.”
“While I never pretended to be a saint, I know that righteousness and discipline are the foundation of the nation. That is why what I desire for the Philippines is a prosperous society that includes everyone – a peaceful law-abiding citizenry and people of different beliefs who choose to get along with one another,” Duterte said.
‘Successful’ drug war
Duterte also said his administration’s war on drugs turned out to become “successful” after the military’s help in the anti-narcotics campaign.
“Little did I know that the drug problem was more complex until tens of thousands of drug users started turning themselves in,” Duterte said.
In February, the President tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take over the campaign, with the coordination of the AFP.
Duterte banned the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation from carrying out his anti-drug crackdown because of supposed corruption in the two law enforcement agencies.
The PMA alumni association expressed support to the Duterte administration.
“We affirm our unwavering support to President Duterte for his initiatives and advocacies most particularly on illegal drugs, heinous crimes, and terrorism and his efforts on lasting peace,” the alumni association said in a manifesto of support read during the homecoming.
PMA alumni also urged government officials and personnel and the public to support the President.