PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to “destroy” the Abu Sayyaf Group following the deadly blasts at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday which left 21 people dead.
Duterte visited Jolo on Monday to inspect the bombed Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral and met with the relatives of the victims to whom he gave financial assistance and pledged to give justice to their slain loved ones.
The President later told soldiers to crush the Abu Sayyaf by “whatever means.”
“I’m ordering you now: Pulpugin ninyo ang Abu Sayyaf by whatever means,” the President said in his speech, a transcript of which was released by Malacañang yesterday.
“Meron man tayong helicopter, may eroplano, may mga barko. Eh iyong mga bala natin diyan sa mga kanyon ninyo...paputukin na ninyo. I-bomba muna ninyo lahat, magbili na tayo ng bagong stock.”
The President made it clear that civilians must be spared from the military offensive against the group notorious for kidnappings and bombings.
“Ang gawin ninyo sabihin ninyo pagka-bobombahin mo ‘yang lahat, paalisin mo iyong mga tao. Paalisin mo ‘yung mga tao, ilagay mo dito kung saan ako ang maggastos ng pagkain, lahat. Tapos plantsahin ninyo ng bala...” he said.
“Kunin ko ‘yung lahat ng inosenteng tao. Halikayo dito, ako ang magpakain muna. Magsakripisyo ako. Hanap ako pera. Tapos pulpugin mo ‘yang teritoryo nila.”
Authorities said that an Abu Sayyaf subgroup, the Ajang-Ajang group, was likely behind the Jolo attacks, which killed 20 people and injured some 100 others, even as the international terror group Islamic State has already claimed responsibility.
A lockdown has been imposed on Jolo following the attacks to ensure security and chase the perpetrators of the bombings, one inside the cathedral followed by a second blast outside, which was detonated as security forces raced to the scene.
Security had also been tightened across the Sulu province.
“Our duty is to protect the Filipino people; and, second is that we have to preserve the nation,” Duterte said.
“‘Pag nawala iyang Jolo, maski isang island diyan, well we have failed in our mission to preserve the territory of the Republic of the Philippines.”