Duterte is 5th President to wage war vs Abu Sayyaf

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 August) – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military and police to seek out the Abu Sayyaf and destroy them.

“Seek them out in their lairs and destroy them… Ang mga Abu Sayyaf destroy them, period,” Duterte said in a midnight press conference, hours after the Abu Sayyaf was reported to have beheaded an 18-year-old male resident of Sulu who was kidnapped by the terrorist group on July 16.

The Abu Sayyaf had earlier warned they would behead Patrick James Almodovar, son of a court stenographer, by Wednesday, August 24, if the million-peso ransom they demanded was not paid.

“That’s why I am sending the troops there and tell them to destroy (the Abu Sayyaf),” Duterte said in a press conference outside a seafood restaurant here after a near midnight dinner Wednesday with soldiers bound for Sulu.

“My orders to the police and armed forces against all enemies of the state: Seek out, seek them out in their lairs, whatever and destroy them. Ang mga droga destroy them. Ang mga Abu Sayyaf, destroy them. Period.”

Duterte is the fifth Philippine President to attempt to destroy the Abu Sayyaf. Former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III had attempted to do the same but the Abu Sayyaf has remained, its kidnapping and other terror acts even worse than before.

Asked how different his war against the Abu Sayyaf will be from the previous administrations’, Duterte replied: “I’ll be harsh. But mind you, it’s not just a campaign-campaign. Go out and destroy them. So patay kung ano yan. Wag na kayong magtanong human rights. Even sa drugs.”

Duterte initially thought it was the Norwegian kidnap victim, Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was beheaded because if he were, “I would accuse now the Abu Sayyaf of in utter bad faith. Binayaran na yan sila” (They were already paid), he said, citing the figure P50,000 but later corrected to P50 million. Who paid the amount, he did not say.

He narrated he has Moro blood, having a Maranao for a grandmother, but abhors what the Abu Sayyaf is doing.

MindaNews later asked Duterte at Magsaysay Park after eating durian with the soldiers, how he will destroy the Abu Sayyaf. “My orders for them: destroy. I do not care if you destroy a physical being or a property there or a cement house. Go there and destroy because they have destroyed us,” he replied.

“But they are also staying within the communities,” MindaNews asked.

“Bahala na. Basta my orders to them, pati yung droga destroy them.”

In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor known for colorful language, waged an “all out war” against the Abu Sayyaf. His battlecry then was “Pulbusin ang Abu hanggang maging abo” (literally: crush the Abu until they turn into ash).

Hundreds of troops were deployed to Sulu, transport to and from the island province as well as telecommunications were cut off for several days in September 2000. Thousands of Sulu residents were displaced and the livelihood of thousands of farmers and fisherfolk was adversely affected as they could not farm and fish while the military operations were ongoing. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)