Duterte tells troops: Wipe out terrorists

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Duterte tells troops: Wipe out terrorists

This handout photo provided by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the 119th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Davao city, southern Philippines on Wednesday May 31, 2017. Duterte, who declared martial law on Mindanao island, southern Philippines, has approved the creation of a "peace corridor" to hasten the rescue of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid for displaced people, said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. Presidential Communications Operations Office via AP

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said that his orders to Philippine security forces battling Islamist militants in Mindanao are to “wipe out” the terrorists.

Speaking before newly-appointed government officials, the president said that he is saddened by the mounting deaths of soldiers and policemen fighting the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi, an Islamic city of around 200,000 people in Lanao Del Sur.

“Kaya kung patayin yan sila huwag kaya magtataka. And my orders are since this is war and I did not ask for it. The people, hindi naman nila hiningi. If it’s war, my orders really are to wipe them out. Everyone. If you shoot him in the head, shoot him in the heart para sigurado,” he said.

Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under army rule last week following heavy clashes between government forces and fighters of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf.

The military said that the firefight started after the attempt of soldiers and policemen to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf subleader, and senior figures in the Maute Group was foiled. This led the Islamist militants to occupy parts of the city and engage the Armed Forces and the police in urban combat.

The clashes have so far killed around 120 Islamist fighters. According to figures released two days ago, casualties on the government side were at 20 dead. Another 11 were killed by a government air strike that the military is now investigating.

As of two days ago, there have been 19 civilians killed in the fighting.

Duterte said that deaths are  to be expected since this is a war.

The president said that, if needed, government fighters could shoot the militants in the heart and the head to ensure that they are really dead.

He also told them to ensure that they would not be captured as he mimed a thoat being slit.

War on drugs and criminals

Duterte also cited the war on drugs and common criminals as the other fronts that his government was battling.

“On top of that, I’m facing three fronts. I have terrorism in Mindanao, the drug problem at yung mga ordinaryong [krimen],” he said.

The president said that on average he was losing three to four soldiers and policemen every day to the clashes in Marawi City.

“Marami akong patay. I’m very sad. Marami akong sundalong, patay. Marami akong pulis, patay,” he said.

Early on Thursday, 11 soldiers were killed after a military aircraft inadvertently dropped a bomb in a location several soldiers were holding. The Armed Forces has already launched an investigation into the incident which it described as “friendly fire.”

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