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.
The president-elect has two demands of his own for the terrorist group.
"Surrender unconditionally, release your prisoners, your hostages," he said.
"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)
Photo from Sulong Pilipinas
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)
"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
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.