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Palace: Duterte plan to arm civilians a ‘dramatization,’ not a policy move

/ 06:37 PM April 20, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that he was thinking of arming civilians was not a policy direction but was meant to raise public vigilance against terrorists, Secretary Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson, said on Thursday.

In a briefing at Malacañang Palace, Abella told reporters that Duterte was merely making a “dramatization” to raise public vigilance against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“In a sense it was a dramatization of making sure that security is raised up in the area,” Abella said.

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Last Wednesday, In a speech in Bohol after a secutiy briefing, Duterte said he was considering arming civilians against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

READ: Duterte offers P1M bounty for each Abu in Bohol

“Well, I intend also to arm the civilians and I will include the civilians,” Duterte said. “If you kill someone, you don’t have to worry. You just go to the police and make the report and state your truth. You have nothing to worry, I’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you or whatever.”

But Abella said Duterte’s statement was “not a policy direction.”

“There’s no paper to support that,” Abella said. “But what I’m saying is that this is his intention to raise security. He has a way of underlining what he wants to do.”

During his Bohol visit, the President also offered a P1-million bounty for each member of the Abu Sayyaf Group who had eluded police and military operations in Inabanga town Bohol after a deadly clash last week.

The police and the military clashed with the Abu Sayyaf on April 11, during which six ASG members were killed, including sub-leader Muammar “Abu Rami” Askali.

Despite the terror attck, Abella said Bohol, along with the rest of the Philippines, was in general “definitely” safe.

“The PNP’s Regional Public Safety Battalion is also available in Bohol and in the other areas, okay,” he said. “So in other words, the administration and the military is looking after the security in the area, in the region.”

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Abella said the government had done “due diligence” to address security concerns of foreigners traveling to the country.

“As far as we can, as far as we have, we have done our due diligence regarding the matter,” he said. “However, on the whole, the tourists’ interest in the Philippines continue to surge. So it will all even up.” /atm

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf Group, Arms, Bohol, civilians, dramatization, Ernesto Abella, Rodrigo Duterte, Security
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