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Duterte: No amnesty for Abu Sayyaf

MANILA, Philippines – Under his watch, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) will never be granted amnesty, said President Rodrigo Duterte.

"The Abu Sayyaf were decapitating people like they would just fowls and pigs and goats. And there will be no talks. The Armed Forces is right, rejecting amnesty for them. I will not, I will never. There will never be an amnesty for so much killing," said Duterte on Monday, September 26.

He was speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of Malacañang Press Corps officers at the Palace.

Apparently, the suggestion to include the Abu Sayyaf in peace talks, with the possibility of the granting of amnesty, was suggested by Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) leader Nur Misuari.

Misuari had facilitated the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad from the ASG. According to an exclusive Rappler report, Misuari may have even earned from Sekkingstad's release.

"Then Nur, problem is Nur, parang hinihigop niya iyong – isali na niya iyong Abu Sayyaf (it's like he wants to include the Abu Sayyaf), which I would like to tell the nation now: No. I will not talk peace with the Abu Sayyaf," said Duterte.

He is averse to the idea because including the bandit group in talks would be "like slapping the nation," said Duterte.

The President also described the group's beliefs as "despicable."

'Destroy' Abu Sayyaf

The Duterte administration is heightening its crackdown on the ASG, sending thousands of troops to Jolo, Sulu, the group's stronghold. Duterte has vowed to "destroy" the group.

The increased military presence comes amid Duterte's call for peace in Mindanao. His administration has kickstarted peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Duterte hopes to include Misuari and the rest of the MNLF in the peace talks. (READ: Duterte to MILF, MNLF: Cut ties with Abu Sayyaf)

Duterte previously identified with the ASG's anger stemming from historical injustices committed against Moros.

But he has blasted the group for its "ungodly" acts such as gruesome beheadings of hostages and kidnap-for-ransom schemes. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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