PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte warned rebel groups that if they cannot settle for peace with the government, the state forces will intensify their effort until all the troops and fighters die.
“If we cannot really agree, then we fight. And we fight hard hanggang magkaubusan na. Maybe by that time, kung ubos na ang lahat, wala nang giyera. Sapagkat ngayon, hindi ko mapigilan ang mga sundalo ko kasi may misyon sila. And the mission is to crush the insurgency,” said the President.
The statement was made by the President during his visit to Jolo Sulu on Sunday, where he awarded medals to the wounded soldiers of Joint Task Force Sulu after the twin bombing that killed 15 persons and wounded 74 others.
Duterte admitted that resolving insurgency in the country would be hard because of resentment among rebels.
“May dalawang taon pa ako. Ewan ko kung ano ang magawa ko talaga. When you go into a fighting, may galit na ‘yan. Mahirap ito aregluhin kasi lahat may sugat na sa puso,” he said.
It can be recalled that on August 24, two explosions rocked Jolo wherein the first blast was located in front of a grocery store where security forces were conducting security patrols in the area.
The two explosions were executed by two female suicide bombers.
The Philippine Army earlier said that Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan is the suspected mastermind behind the Jolo bombings.
In line with this, the government offered a P3 million reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of Sawadjaan and other Abu Sayyaf members.
Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said on Sunday that Sawadjaan is stuck in Patikul, Sulu.
On Saturday, the 3rd and the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion of the Philippine Army exchanged gunfire with the Abu Sayyaf group including Sawadjaan in Barangay Kabbon Takas.
WestMinCom said two alleged Abu Sayyaf members and one soldier died in the clash, while seven other soldiers from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion were hurt.