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DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte needs more time to address terrorism by the Abu Sayyaf but warned that the group will soon have to face the consequences of their actions.
“There will be a time, there will be a reckoning,” he said on Tuesday, June 21, at a business forum held in Davao City.
His statement comes a week after the beheading of another Canadian by the Abu Sayyaf after the ransom deadline had passed. On Tuesday, June 21, a military encounter in Sulu with the kidnappers killed 3 Abu Sayyaf members and wounded 16 soldiers.
The president-elect has two demands of his own for the terrorist group.
“Surrender unconditionally, release your prisoners, your hostages,” he said.
Duterte asked the public to give him more time to address the problem of terrorism in the country.
“This Abu Sayyaf [problem], just give me the luxury of time. I cannot just do it immediately. There are things which I need which we don’t have now,” he said. (READ: Duterte’s challenges: Terror, crime and the Abu Sayyaf)
Addressing terrorism would also require positive developments in the government’s peace negotiations with Muslim rebels.
“I have to have a firm commitment from our [Moro brothers] about the continuity of the talks,” he said.
Duterte added that the peace talks would only be a success if Muslim separatist groups promise not to harbor terrorists.
“As long as I get that guarantee that it will be peaceful and you are not protecting terrorists, when I have it in my hands, I’ll be ready to find peace,” he said.
The capture of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in a territory controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) raised issues of trust between Muslim rebels and the government.
The bloody outcome of this capture, known as the Mamasapano massacre, endangered peace talks between the two parties and eventually derailed the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. (READ: ‘Moro Convention’ eyed to craft new Bangsamoro law)
Duterte repeated his call for a unified nation.
“My great dream is, one day, Filipinos will just say Filipino and won’t mention left or right, or he is a Moro rebel,” he said. – Rappler.com