PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday offered a P1-million bounty for each of the six Abu Sayyaf bandits who escape in a deadly encounter with security forces in Inabanga, Bohol, last week as he urged civilians to take up arms and kill off the terrorists.
“My order to the police and to everyone, and even to the civilians... is [to get them] dead or alive,” Duterte said in Filipino after receiving a security briefing in Tagbilaran, Bohol Wednesday ahead of the ongoing Asean-related meetings being held in the province.
“Just a tip--give them to the police and the military, no questions asked, we’ll not even give you names. Just tell the government and we will be in charge,” he said.
On Sunday, Duterte told security forces to finish off the Abu Sayyaf as another of the terrorist group’s sub-leaders, Alhabisi Misaya, was spotted in Negros Oriental, constituting a threat to nearby Apo Island, Sumilon Island and Siquijor.
Last week, Abu Sayyaf bandits planning a terrorist attack clashed with police and troops in nearby Inabanga, Bohol, leaving nine people dead, including the leader of the operation, Abu Rami.
The President called on civilians to kill the jihadists, as he ordered an intensified crackdown on the terrorist group, even in their lairs in Sulu.
“Well I hope it would not reach that point where we have to choose the last option. Because if that’s the case, I will maybe invade Jolo. A real invasion where people will get hurt--civilians, children. If the country is in a bind, I will order the invasion of Jolo. The entire Army, Navy will go there, and that’s where the real fighting will be. If that’s what they want, I’ll give it to them,” he said in Filipino.
The province of Bohol is currently hosting the Intercessional Regional Economic Partnership Trade Negotiating Committee from April 19 to 21.
In a Palace press briefing, Asean National Organizing Committee Director-General Marciano Paynor said the government is beefing up security following the recent fighting in Bohol.
“When the incidents unfolded last week, we, of course, had an emergency meeting and as part of the NOC, we have a Committee on Security and Disaster Preparedness. So they went to Bohol, I did go also and we had a brief meeting,” Paynor told reporters.
He said the Security Committee felt that the situation has been contained and therefore, the meeting should go on adding that “it was natural, of course, for some of the embassies to ask us our plans.”
“We have, of course, alternate plans and that meeting would have been held here in Manila had it been necessary to do so,” he said. “But we always say we will not be coerced or held hostage by these actions. But at the same time, we need to be sure that we can assure the safety of the delegates… As of now, the meeting is a go.”
The President said he is willing to pardon any civilian who will try to kill the bandits.
“No problem. I’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you. Whatever,” he said.
The Armed Forces is still hunting the remaining terrorists.
On Wednesday, military officials said 34 drug-crazed prospective recruits of the Abu Sayyaf were captured and a bandit was killed in a clash with security forces that raided a supposed drug den on the outskirts of Patikul, Sulu Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu said the 34 suspects, including a female, were captured shortly after brief clash that led to the killing of an ASG member following the conduct of law enforcement operations in Barangay Danag, Patikul town at 4 a.m.
Sobejana said an Army soldier was also wounded during the latest operations against the bandit group.
He said members of the Sulu PNP and soldiers from the 45th Infantry Battalion were about to serve warrant of arrest against the drug suspects supplying drugs to the ASG when one of them resisted sparking an ensued skirmish that led to the death of the ASG member.
The clash, Sobejana said lasted for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Naval Forces Western Mindanao chief Rear Admiral Rene Medina on Wednesday said naval and air assets had foiled Tuesday an attempt by armed bandits to hijack a cargo vessel possibly to kidnap some of its crew off Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
Medina said the rescue operation happened at 8 a.m. to save the 21 crew of M/V Anabelle.
He could not immediately confirm if the pirates were Abu Sayyaf or any kidnap-for-ransom group operating in that part of the region.
“The cargo vessel was cruising the sea waters off Siocon from Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte enroute to Zamboanga City gave a distress call and reported that three motorized boats with undetermined number of armed men onboard were seemingly attacking them and attempting to board their vessel,” he said.
Medina said he immediately dispatched Navy ships and requested two combat attack helicopters from the Air Force to rescue the distressed crew.
The pirates quickly sped off. With PNA
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