Take no Sayyaf prisoners — Duterte
FOR President Rodrigo Duterte, the only good Abu Sayyaf is a dead one.
“Do not give me prisoners. I don’t need them,” he said Wednesday night. “If there’s a fight and they surrender, you refuse. You decline the offer of surrender.”
“Let’s continue fighting. Eventually they will run out of bullets. I have plenty of soldiers to spare,” he added as he divulged that the recent clash in Bohol was timed by the ASG to embarrass the government, which is hosting meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“The Abu Sayyaf [is there] because there is an Asean meeting now, and they went there maybe to kidnap [some people]… I told the Navy if you see them [on a boat], blast them off,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Duterte offered a P1-million bounty for each of the six Abu Sayyaf bandits who escaped the deadly encounter with security forces in Inabanga, Bohol, last week.
The President even called up on civilians to kill the jihadists, as he ordered an intensified crackdown on the terrorist group, even in their lairs in Sulu.
The President had earlier 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, three soldiers and a policeman.
The Palace played down Duterte’s call to civilians to kill terrorists, however.
“It’s not a policy direction, okay. It’s not a policy… There’s no paper to support that. But what I’m saying is that this is his intention to raise security,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Thursday.
In the same press briefing, Abella said that while the introduction of a national ID system “seems to be the general direction” that the country is headed to address security concerns, it is not an urgent concern for the President.
“[President Duterte] is open to the idea of a national ID system but at the moment it is not included in his legislative priority agenda,” he said.
During a meeting with the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia last week, Duterte said the idea of the Philippines having a national ID system was good.
Duterte was responding to a query from an overseas Filipino worker who was seeking the establishment of a national ID system similar to the one in Saudi Arabia.
“We’re working on it because it’s good.”
Several proposals have been made in past Congresses to establish a national ID system, but these failed because of strong opposition by sectors who raised concerns about privacy.
The military welcomed Duterte’s announcement of a P1-million cash reward for the remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits who survived the clash in Bohol.
“The offer of the President was a welcome move and we thank the Commander-in-Chief for this. Hopefully, this will encourage informants and other concerned citizens to help expedite the arrests of these bandits,” Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
The military is still hunting the stragglers from the group led by ASG sub-leader Muanmar Askali alias Abu Rami, who were intercepted by military forces at Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga town last April 11.
In the clash, Askali and three other bandits were killed along with three soldiers and a police officer. Two elderly civilians were also reported killed in the firefight.
The AFP earlier said Askali’s group was out to kidnap local and foreign tourists in the province as part of their fundraising efforts.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Thursday advised Filipinos not to take Duterte’s call to kill terrorists seriously because killing is not the solution to criminality.
Also on Thursday, Joint Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said aging ASG leader Radullan Sahiron was ready to surrender because of the incessant military pressure.
“There is no definite date yet for his surrender but he has expressed willingness to surrender and as reported to us, he is weak, tired and weary due to their constant movement from one place to another as our focused military operation against them is unceasing due to our constant rotation of our forces,” said Sobejana in Filipino.
Sobejana declined to identify the ASG chief’s emissary but said the latter is a close and respected friend of the bandit chieftain.
He also declined to give additional details as efforts are still ongoing to ensure that Sahiron’s surrender will materialize.
“We believe that once Radullan surfaces [and surrenders], his followers and other [leaders] will follow,” the military official added.
One of the conditions set by the ASG leader is that the government will not turn him over to the US government.
Sahiron leads the ASG in Sulu after most of the founding leaders of the group were killed.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a $1 million reward for his capture.
The total number of surrendered Abu Sayyaf members has reached 16, following the order of President Duterte to finish off the bandit group in the six-month period ending June 30.
Over 40 Abu Sayyaf members have been killed in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi since January.
Justice Department officials on Thursday said one of the two suspected Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists arrested here last month and scheduled for deportation was still in the country because of an “airline ticket problem.”
Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes confirmed that Syrian national Rahaf Zina remains in the country as the Bureau of Immigration is arranging her flight back home with the assistance of the Syrian Embassy. With Vito Barcelo, PNA