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‘Get him dead or alive’

Duterte raises bounty on Hapilon to P17.4m

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has raised the reward for Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon to P17.4 million dead or alive, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año announced Monday.

Hapilon, regarded as the leader of local Islamic State-affiliated terrorists such as the Maute group that attacked Marawi City, also carries a $5-million bounty from the US government.

A spokesman for the military said Duterte’s offer of P10 million was on top of a standing bounty of P7.4 million for Hapilon, who has outstanding arrest warrants for kidnapping with ransom and serious illegal detention.

“This reflects the resolve of the administration to get the terrorists dead or alive to finally end the conflict in Marawi City,” said AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.

The announcement came as the United States gave the Philippines hundreds of machine guns, pistols and grenade launchers, which a local commander said would be used against Islamist militants battling troops in Marawi City.

The weapons, including machine guns capable of firing thousands of rounds a minute, were handed over at a ceremony in Manila that highlighted a decade-old American counter-terrorism assistance program to the Philippines worth about $150 million.

“This equipment will enhance the [Philippine Marines’] counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect [troops] actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines,” a US Embassy statement said.

Marines chief Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said at the ceremony troops would use the weapons in the ongoing battle against Islamist extremists in Marawi.

Isnilon Hapilon
Militants flying black Islamic State group flags rampaged through Marawi nearly two weeks ago, triggering clashes with troops and police that have left at least 178 people dead.

In response to the violence, President Rodrigo Duterte quickly declared martial law in Mindanao to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat from IS there. 

The Philippines and the United States have for decades been close allies, and they are bound by a 1951 mutual defense treaty to protect each other if attacked. 

The United States is the Philippines’ biggest supplier of military hardware and arms.

However, Duterte, who took office last year, has sought to loosen the Philippines’ ties with the United States while forging closer relations with China and Russia.

Duterte has called for the withdrawal of American troops from his country while scaling down joint military exercises in response to US criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

He has looked to China and Russia as new sources of weapons, and complained about the quality of “second-hand” American military hardware.

“I will not accept any more military equipment that is second hand. The ones the Americans are giving, I do not want that anymore,” Duterte said on Friday. 

The equipment turned over on Monday was all new, according to US officers at the ceremony. 

It included four M134D Gatling-style machine guns, which are capable of firing thousands of rounds a minute, as well as 300 M4 assault rifles and 100 grenade launchers. 

Also on Monday, the AFP said it is validating reports that 1,200 foreign ISIS operatives are currently in the country.

ANTI-TERROR WEAPONS. Philippine Marine Commandant Major General Emmanuel Salamat (center) tries an M4 rifle while US military representatives look on during a handover ceremony of weapons from the US at Marine headquarters in Manila on June 5, 2017. The US  donation supports the counterterrorism  program against  Islamic militants, authorities said, despite tirades from President Rodrigo Duterte against arms from Washington. AFP
Arevalo said the figure did not come from the military.

“And if there is such a number, it might include all the local terrorists in the Philippines,” he added in Filipino.

“We are going to validate that number, we can’t say that it is wrong [for now as] it has to go through a process of validation,” Arevalo said.

Earlier, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said there were 1,200 ISIS fighters in the Philippines, of which 40 are Indonesian.

He added only cooperation, understanding and consensus can prevent these terrorists from setting up roots in Southeast Asia. 

In a news briefing, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said they were caught off guard by the Indonesian Defense chief’s claim.

“The revelations of the Indonesian Defense minister is something that came as a surprise to us because as was mentioned by senior defense officials, in truth, we don’t have those numbers,” Padilla said.

Padilla said they had information about 40 foreign fighters who were aiding local terror groups, including the eight already killed in Marawi.

Still, he said the Philippines would reach out to Ryacudu to inquire about the source of his information.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue Sunday, Ryacudu called the militants “killing machines” and urged full-scale regional cooperation against them.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday  said the reported presence of ISIS groups in the Philippines  highlights the need for security officials to closely coordinate with neighboring countries and other concerned nations like the European Union and the United States in the exchange of intelligence information, particularly on international terrorism and other related security matters. 

“The world has become smaller not only in terms of modern information technology but also on Muslim extremism aimed at establishing an Islamic state in certain parts of countries which they think are vulnerable and where they can have influence,” said Lacson. With AFP and PNA

Topics: Isnilon Hapilon , President Rodrigo Duterte , Gen. Eduardo Año , Maute group , Marawi City , Philippines , United States
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