Duterte: Abu Sayyaf are not criminals
DAVAO CITY—Despite the kidnapping and beheading activities of the terror group Abu Sayyaf, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he refused to call them criminals.
In a speech during the Hariraya Eid al-Fitr celebration in a convention center here, Duterte said: “I’m not including the Abu Sayyaf dito sa criminality. You’ve never heard me say that they are criminals.”
He said the Abu Sayyaf—a group known for bombings, extortion and assassination—resorted to violence because “they were driven to desperation.”
“Failed promises” to the Islamic separatist group caused their desperation, Duterte said.
The al-Qaida-linked group seeks an independent Islamic state for the Muslims in the Mindanao region.
Recently, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded its Canadian captives John Ridsdel and Robert Hall in the jungles of Sulu after the government refused to give in to their demand of millions-worth of ransom money.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the Duterte administration is open to a negotiation with the Abu Sayyaf leaders.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar and other leaders of the Moro community attended the event.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.