PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte again blasted the Abu Sayyaf Group as he renewed his marching order to the military to destroy the band of kidnappers.
Duterte said that the peace talks will be useless if the ASG will “persist with their slaughter like chickens of our people.”
He said that the “presence of the ASG like drugs will only destroy our land and our people.”
The President said that he has lost his respect for the bandit group because of their terroristic acts.
“So my order to the Armed Forces and to the police is destroy them. Destroy them because they are criminals and we will never have peace in that area there. And even if you grant the autonomy and maintain the mandates, we will never have peace in that land. So wala tayong magawa, useless ang ating peace talks. There’s a segment of society in there… Tausug and they want peace. And here you are slaughtering people as if they are chickens in front of the public. Nawala ang respeto ko… nawala ang bilib ko sa inyo. Kaya I will not hesitate to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines… kill them, destroy them… destroy," Duterte said.
Meanwhile the President also said it would be better for Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur if he is in the custody of the government because he would be taken care of and kept out of harm’s way.
This developed as the ASG confirmed the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that at least 12 of their members were killed during a fierce encounter in Barangay Bongkaong, Patikul, Sulu Friday morning.
However, Abu Rami, spokesperson of the group, denied that a high-ranking commander of the ASG was among the fatalities.
Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan Jr. said that among those killed was ASG sub-leader Mohammad Said, also known as Ama Maas, who was involved in the abduction of several hostages in Samal, which included Maritess Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
Brigadier General Arnel dela Vega, the commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said that they are validating information that one commander of the ASG was killed in a 14-hour gun battle which also left at least 17 soldiers wounded.
Dela Vega said the ASG members were outnumbered by soldiers who assaulted one of the group’s strongholds in Patikul. They were also not expecting the ground assault of the government forces, which the soldiers used as an advantage to strike simultaneously from different directions.
Pursuit operations against the ASG are ongoing in remote areas of Patikul and Talipao.
According to Dela Vega, government forces did not see any kidnap victims during the encounter.