PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday warned that a civil war might erupt in Mindanao should Christians take up arms against Islamic State-inspired militants who are planning to expand their attacks outside of Marawi City.
“If civilians start to take up arms, it will be a civil war,” the President said during his visit to Camp Bautista in Cagayan de Oro.
Duterte said moving the peace talks forward with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be crucial in ensuring that the siege in Marawi City does not spill over to neighboring provinces.
“The MILF can take care of the people in their strongholds and prevent them from joining the fight,” he said.
“If this becomes a civil war, people will really kill each other. In Mindanao, there are a lot of Christians who also own high-powered guns. They have stockpile of arms. A communal war will be dangerous for everyone. We have to prevent that,” the President added.
Duterte said the Maute members might try to bring their ISIS-inspired attacks to Zamboanga, Jolo and Cotabato.
“Their strong driving force is no longer nationalism or loss of land. They have already shifted to the ISIS philosophy,” he said.
In a separate speech at Iligan City, Duterte said Christians in Mindanao are already furious with what is happening in Marawi.
“Christians are already getting nervous. If their [Maute’s] style is to kill and raze properties to ashes, they won’t agree to that. They will fight back,” the President said.
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