MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has tightened the noose on members of the Abu Sayyaf Group a week after authorities foiled ASG’s planned terrorist attack in Bohol.
Aside from offering P1-million ransom for each of the six or seven ASG members who had escaped after their clash with the military and the police in Napo village, Inabanga town, Duterte also said he would arm civilians to kill members of the ISIS-linked terrorist group and invade Jolo when push comes to shove.
He said tipsters only need to give information to the military and the police on the whereabouts of the hiding ASG members and would not be asked to identify themselves.
“I have a one million offer, per person ako…tip lang ibigay mo sa pulis pati military, no questions asked…Do not even give the names…sabi mo lang kung saan sila at gobyerno na ang bahala,” said Duterte during an interview with reporters in Tagbilaran, Bohol.
The President also emboldened civilians to hunt down and kill ASG members by saying that he would absolve them of the crime.
“I intend also to arm the civilians and I will include the civilians. Pag nakapatay ka [If you killed somebody], you don’t have to worry, you just go to the police and make the report, state your truth. Wala kang problema [You won’t have a problem], I’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you for whatever.”
But the chief executive quickly added that he would “talk to local officials” first before arming civilians.
“They might have some objections so I would like to hear first what would be the wherewithals in such a situation where we arm the civilians,” said Duterte.
The President said he would prefer that civilians not spare the lives of ASG members as he wanted the terrorists dead than alive because it would be costly to spend for their food while they’re in jail.
“I encourage civilians also to kill kasi dead or alive man ‘yan, may reward. Pero mas gusto ko ‘yong dead kasi ‘yong alive, magpakain pa ako…magastos masyado.”
Asked if authorities were getting near to capturing Aby Sayyaf members, Duterte said, “We are doing our best, the Army is here, the place is secured. We have more than enough officers to fight for one year if need be.”
He said what was important was “interdiction.”
“That they (ASG members) must not reach the places well beyond the Mindanao sea. Dapat doon lang sila [They should just be there].”
He said authorities “have the capability” to interdict the movements of the terrorist group.
“Yon ang plano namin. Parang i-tag ka namin sa satellite tapos malaman na namin…There was a good intelligence network. Kung makita ka namin, i-tag ka na namin.
[That’s out plan. We will tag you via satellite and then we will know where you are…There was a good intelligence network. If we will see you, we will tag you.]
He said he had ordered the Philippine Navy to no longer give the terrorists the chance to surrender and blast them to death if they see them sailing beyond Mindanao waters, quipping that only the fish would witness the crime.
“So habang nagbibiyahe ka, my orders to the Navy is kung positive, pasabugin na, wala nang surrender, surrender. Ang sabi ko, kanyunin mo na, wasakin mo…Wala man makakita, ang isda naman.”
“Eh pu_ _ng ina nila. Gusto talaga nila ng gano’n eh di ibigay ko. Mahirap ‘yang gobyerno na pa-wishy-washy,” he added. [F_ck them. That’s what they want so I’l give it to them. It would be difficult if the government would be wishy-washy.]
If all moves against the ASG would not succeed, Duterte said he would be compelled to invade Jolo and declare an all-out-war against the terrorist group, which he said would be bloody and result in collateral damage.
“I hope it would not reach the point where we have to choose the last option. Because pagka gano’n, I will, maybe, invade Jolo. Invasion na lang talaga. But maraming madisgrasya d’yan, civilian, bata.”
“Pag naipit na ang bayan, I will order the invasion of Jolo. Lahat ng Army, lahat ng Navy, magpunta do’n. D’yan bakbakan na talaga ‘yan. Yan ang gusto nila, ibibigay ko.”