Palace: Abu Sayyaf still accountable under Duterte admin
Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that he does not consider members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) criminals, a Malacañang official on Saturday clarified that the terror group notorious for kidnapping and beheading activities would still be held accountable under the rule of law.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government would not just let the crimes committed by the bandits pass without appropriate sanctions.
“He was just trying to explain the context kung ano ‘yung ginawa ‘nong ASG. Basically, sinasabi niya, these are people who already have become desperate. Hindi po niya pinapalampas ‘yung mga ginawa nila, pero nilalagay lang po niya in context ‘yung mga, ‘yung kanilang pinaggagawa, that they were forced to desperation,” Abella said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“In other words, naiintindihan niya ‘yung ginagawa nila but ang ano po, ‘yung kanila pong mga action ay still have to be answered for,” he added.
In his speech during the Hari Raya Eid al-Fitr celebration in Davao, Duterte on Friday said he refused to call the Abu Sayyaf criminals, as he blamed policies of the United States for terrorist attacks on its soil and conflicts in the Middle East.
READ: Duterte: Abu Sayyaf are not criminals
The Philippines and the US have blacklisted the ASG as a terrorist organization for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.
The bandits recently beheaded two Canadians in Sulu after the deadline for ransom lapsed, while a Norwegian, a Dutch bird watcher, and seven Indonesian tugboat crewmen remain in their custody.
Asked if the government would still go after the Abu Sayyaf, Abella said he “believes so,” noting that the group had indeed committed criminal acts.
“‘Yun po—they are still accountable for what they have done kasi may nagawa naman talaga ‘no. Linalagay lang po niya ‘yung context na hindi lang—‘yung kanilang pinaggagawa ay may pinanggagalingan, may pinanggagalingan po,” he said.
“I believe that was the context of the statement. ‘Yun po. May pinanggagalingan sila, hindi lang sila basta crime, in the sense of just ordinary bandits pero meron silang pinanggagalingan, meron silang motive, kaya lang po they still have to be answerable for the actions,” Abella added.
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