President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a press conference in Malacañan on January 29, 2017. (Ace Morandante/Presidential Photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced Tuesday that the Army is now in ‘full swing’ against Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups.

“I would like to inform my fellow Mindanaoans and Filipinos that operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups are now in full swing. Your AFP will use its ground, air and sea assets against our enemies and leave them no room for escape,” Lorenzana said.

He also enjoined the public to cooperate with the Army and not coddle terrorists even if they are relatives.

“We earnestly ask you to cooperate with your Armed Forces to avoid any untoward incident or injury. Huwag ninyong tutulungan ang mga terorista. Kung tatakbo sila sa mga bahay n’yo, huwag ninyo silang patutuluyin, kakanlungin at itatago. Kung mga kamag-anak o kaibigan ninyo sila at gusto n’yo silang sagipin, kumbinsihin n’yo silang magbalik-loob sa pamahalaan habang may panahon pa (Do not help terrorists. If they will run to your houses, do not provide them sanctuary, do not coddle them. If they are your relatives or friends, convince them to turn themselves in while there is still time),” he said.

“The war against terrorism and violent extremism is not just the responsibility of your Armed Forces. It is a war every Filipino citizen must fight in order to attain lasting peace and usher in development to Mindanao and the entire nation,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte during the oathtaking ceremony of new AFP officials in Malacanang said that he has instructed Lorenzana that fighting the terrorists should be contained in Mindanao.

“We have to contain the fighting in Mindanao. We cannot just afford to allow them to spread because ang pinakadelikado dyan yung mga scholars,” Duterte said.

The President said they have received reports that there are about four to six Arabs who are acting as political officers of the terrorist group.

“We have to contain the fighting, we cannot afford, allow it to spread,” Duterte told Army officials.

“Just like the Communists, yung mga political officers nila ang delikado para sa atin,” he said.

However, the all out war against terrorist groups did not sit well with Moro human rights advocates in Mindanao.

Bai Ali Indayla, third nominee of Gabriela Women’s Partylist said the military offensive will result to human rights abuses.

“We have documented several cases of Moro civilians languishing in jail because they were mistakenly charged as terrorists,” she said.

Indayla said the war against terrorism is used by the US to “justify”their presence in the country.

“The intensified war on terror is also used by US to justify the implementation of EDCA amidst criticisms of Pres. Duterte to this one-sided agreement,” she said.

Amirah Lidasan, national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro also said “(C)rafting another Oplan and the announcement of all-out war merely reinforces AFP’s bloodhunt against the Moro people.”

“Just like its civilian counterpart, the PNP, the Army’s plan only gives them license to indiscriminately attack the Moro people,” she said.

Lidasan also criticized the plan of the President to resort to militarizing Mindanao.

“We believe that the age-old government response of “pulverizing” terrorism or extremism is not the solution, it only breeds hatred and retaliation for the loss of lives, suppression of the beliefs and disrespect of religion,” said Lidasan.

“Should President Duterte hold on to the mantra of all-out war, he is no different from the previous administration which uses anti-terror war as an excuse to implement US-RP military accords or strengthen US military presence in Mindanao,” she added. (

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