‘Better to talk than kill all rebels’
DAVAO CITY—President Duterte said he would rather talk with all insurgent groups rather than wipe them out despite the growing threat of terror attacks he expects in the coming years.
“I’m talking to everybody. I don’t want trouble,” he said on Friday as he addressed members of the uniformed services who had completed a proficiency course on motorcycle-riding in Davao City.
“Even if you kill all those rebels, it would amount to nothing. This has been going on for so many years,” said the 71-year old President. “We cannot wage war against our own people and you cannot build a government over the bones of soldiers and rebels.”
He said this was why he was also talking with the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been fighting the government for 47 years in one of the world’s longest running insurgencies.
Mr. Duterte said taking a peaceful approach by talking with rebels remains “the best solution” to the Moro insurgency, adding that he hoped the military would not be “offended” by this approach.
He said he had discussed this matter with Murad Ebrahim, leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“But I have a problem here with Moro rebels. I hope to talk to them eventually,” the President said of other Moro armed groups.
The President warned that terror attacks “will come.”
“Be prepared,” he said, a day after the Philippine National Police announced that the entire country had been placed under terror alert 3, a warning that an attack could occur “within a short period of time.”
The announcement followed the arrest of two men suspected of planting an improvised bomb near the US embassy in Manila on Nov. 28. The explosive was similar to the one set off by suspected members of the Maute terror group in Davao City on Sept. 2, killing 15 people.
Authorities said the alleged bombing attempt could have been intended to ease pressure on the Islamic State inspired extremists being battered by a major military offensive in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier said the military would be willing to hold talks with the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups “for as long as they have the desire to change their lives.” He said this condition was non-negotiable.
“Our only request is that we must not allow this at the expense of justice because those who have pending warrants or who were already sentenced in court must answer for the crimes they have committed,” Padilla said. —FRINSTON LIM
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