Duterte to BARMM execs: Control BIFF or military will launch all-out offensive
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Tuesday to help control extremist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), warning he will be forced to order the military to launch an all-out offensive if they won’t.
Duterte went to Maguindanao to have a dialogue with local officials after the radical armed organization seized the province’s Datu Paglas town over the weekend.
“Ang military, upon my orders, press for a fight in order to impose peace. Ngayon, kung hindi ninyo makumbinsi ang mga tao — alam ko ‘yung iba, ayaw sa inyo, maybe kalaban ninyo — but you must do something,” he said in a speech at Camp B. Gen. Gonzalo H. Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
“Kapag ganun, kung hindi ko mapigilan, and there will be an all-out offensive, ‘yan na ang problema. And if I give the order, I will no longer withdraw it. I will wait for the next President to do what he wants with Mindanao.”
Duterte slammed the BIFF for committing “full-blown terrorism” via ambuscades and bombings but he said he does not want to order an all-out offensive just yet.
“Ngayon nag-mamakaawa ako sa inyo tulungan ninyo ako because otherwise, if I give the order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and it will be sad. ‘Yun ang ayaw ko,” he said.
(I am begging you to help me because otherwise, if I give the order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and it will be sad. I don’t want that.)
The President said he was saddened by the seizure of Maguindanao’s Datu Paglas town, noting that casualties of violence there were civilians. He even said he was “moved to tears” by what happened, calling it a “pure carnage.”
On May 8, over 100 gunmen from the BIFF occupied Datu Paglas town prompting a gun battle with government soldiers. The military was able to retake the town after a six-hour gunfight.
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