President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to go full blast against the terrorist groups in Lanao del Sur.
“I have ordered full military operations there,” he announced in a press conference on Sunday midnight in Malacañang.
Duterte said, “takot ako sa kanila kasi they use IED. (I am afraid of them because they use improvised explosive devices). They used that in my city.”
The Commander in Chief also said, he had instructed AFP Chief Eduardo Año, “you embargo the place, contain them in that area alone in Lanao del Sur.”
He also announced, “I have authorized the AFP to use all available assets and weaponry.”
Duterte noted, he is intensifying the campaign against terrorism, saying, “the greatest danger now that humankind faces is extremism. In killing people, they don’t make a difference kung bata ka o matanda ka (if you are a kid or an old person).”
The President also said, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is now seen as the ‘top honcho’ in the Philippines by the international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).
Duterte’s remarks come after government troops killed 15 militants in Lanao del Sur during an offensive last Thursday.
Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is in the most wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and 3 Americans in 2001.
A five-million-dollar bounty is being offered for information that will lead to his arrest.
Hapilon was earlier reported to have been among those who were wounded in the air strikes.
Año had reported Hapilon needed blood transfusion and that the ASG leader could die if he would not be given immediate medical treatment.
Hapilon used to be based in Sulu but he was in Lanao del Sur, with two other foreigners, when the military conducted the assault.
He was reportedly the target of the offensive.
Lanao del Sur is where Maute local terror group is based.