Duterte wants 20 more battalions to fight terror groups
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the creation of more military battalions to be deployed in parts of Mindanao as part of the government’s anti-terrorism campaign.
The President has ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to fast-track the forming of 20 to 35 battalions to fight back local terrorist groups inspired by the Islamic State.
“In Mindanao, they are grappling with terrorism. If there is one thing that would give me the sweat in the hands and I am afraid of, that is terrorism. That is what we are guarding against,” he said.
He added: “We need men and as a matter of fact I have ordered Lorenzana to move faster in the creation of new battalions in the Army. We need, I need about… Ideally I need about 35. But I could, I would be happy with 20 in the meantime.”
Mr. Duterte made the remarks during a situation briefing on the effects of typhoon “Tisoy” in the Bicol region on Thursday night.
The President cited the need to be prepared in case the Isis threat in Sulu might spill over to other parts of Mindanao.
“That is what we are guarding against. I really do not know. I cannot project even, of everything and prepare. But it is always good to be prepared for all of these things. But Mindanao is very open to these kinds of things,” he said.The Chief Executive said there was no such threat yet as far as the government was concerned.
“I hope it would not come. The only fear is that the Isis would move inner from the Sulu islands. It might travel to Mindanao. That’s the problem,” he said.
Although government troops can manage the security threats in Mindanao, the President admitted that he is still “losing my soldiers” and that they are being “walloped.”
He noted that he has previously deployed an entire military division to Jolo, Sulu, to maintain peace and order there and fight the Abu Sayyaf group.
Mr. Duterte added that prior to the deployment, government forces were “sporadic” as “there was no clear advantage for government.”
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