DAVAO CITY — Now that the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines is moving forward, President Rodrigo Duterte said the government troops will focus on dealing with the illegal drugs trade and extremism in the country.
“Wala tayong NPA, MNLF is medyo silent and MILF has agreed to talk. So we have this time to concentrate on the fronts sa drugs pati doon sa extremism. (We do not have the New People’s Army. The Moro National Liberation Front is quite silent and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has agreed to talk. So we have this time to concentrate on the fronts of drugs and extremism),” Duterte said during his speech at the 10th year anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command inside the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, here Friday night, August 26.
Duterte said the present peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines has presented a “window” of opportunity.
He said the government can manage the number of the extremist group, pertaining to the Abu Sayyaf Group. “Definitely the Abu Sayyaf is out of control and there is only one way to do it.”
Duterte said he had the respect for the ASG members who we were “fighting for freedom” but unfortunately lost because of the ideology of terrorism that the group espoused.
“Tama kayo, there was this historical injustice committed against the Moro people (You were right, there was this historical injustice committed against the Moro people),” Duterte said.
“Kayong mga Abu Sayyaf noon, medyo sumasaludo ako. But when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera, and then now you kill an innocent boy, nawala ang respeto ko sa inyo (I somewhat salute Abu Sayyaf members before, but when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera, and then now you kill an innocent boy, you lost my respect),” he said.
The ASG reportedly beheaded 18-year-old Patrick Almodovar on Wednesday, August 24, after his family failed to meet the deadline to pay the ransom amounting to P1 million.
‘Destroy the Abu Sayyaf’
Duterte said he would not hesitate to order both the military and the police to destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“Destroy them because they are criminals,” Duterte said. He added that there will never be peace in the area if the ASG remains.
“Even if we grant them autonomy and they remain to be bandits, we will never have peace in that land. So, useless ang ating peace talks,” he said.
At least 1,000 soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division here were sent to Jolo, Sulu to step up government’s ongoing campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.
The 69th Infantry Battalion and the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion will be part of some 15 battalions to be deployed in the area of Western Mindanao Command.
In his fight against illegal drugs, Duterte said he has given the government troops all that they need for the anti-drug campaign.
Duterte also agreed for the postponement of the barangay elections to avoid having politicians funded by drug cartels.
“Do you know the reason why I also agreed with congress, some Congressman, to postpone the barangay elections? Do you know why? Because I am afraid that the drug money will seep into the electoral process. You will just be adding to our headache, those that are funded by drug money will win,” Duterte said.
Given the severity of the problem, Duterte said it would entail a declaration of Martial to eliminate all problems. He, however, stressed that he will not invoke such, but instead vowed to solve the problems within the limit of his powers as President.
“At kailangan mo ng mag-Martial Law para to eliminate all. Which I will never do in the first place,” he said. (davaotoday.com)