Duterte appeals for Mindanao peace
Speaking to soldiers, police and local officials at Camp Siongco in Cotabato City, Duterte said he could not afford to bring war in the region, as it will result in bloodshed and killing of many innocent lives.
Joven Cagande, file

Duterte appeals for Mindanao peace

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Saying he cannot wage a war against his fellow Filipinos, President Duterte yesterday appealed to concerned sectors in Mindanao to work for peace as he condemned the recent attack perpetrated by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Datu Paglas town, Maguindanao.

Speaking to soldiers, police and local officials at Camp Siongco in Cotabato City, Duterte said he could not afford to bring war in the region, as it will result in bloodshed and killing of many innocent lives.

“It’s painful for me too see... I am moved to tears to see what really is happening now. It’s pure carnage. The ultimate beneficiaries of the violence created here are the civilians,” Duterte said.

He said he is seeking a peaceful solution to avoid an all-out offensive by the government.

Duterte flew to Cotabato yesterday to personally reach out to the people, following Saturday’s occupation by some 100 BIFF bandits of the public market in Datu Paglas.

The incident was described as one of the boldest attacks staged by the militant group since December.

Backed by helicopters, soldiers of the 601st Infantry Brigade and the police began their assault at 9 a.m. on the BIFF men.

The bandits were reportedly followers of Kagi Karialan, who is operating around the Liguasan Marsh.

The militants retreated to the jungles of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

“I appeal, because the government cannot wage a war against its own people. That cannot be. That’s why I went here to remind you that whatever happens, Mindanao is still a part of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

Although exasperated on how the BIFF bandits controlled the market and used civilians as human shields, Duterte said he wanted the matter resolved peacefully.

The President appealed to concerned sectors to intervene and try to keep peace in the region.

“But you must do something because it will come to a fore na ‘pag marami na ang tama ng military pati pulis magsabi na sila sa akin, sir, ganito na lang ba?, we will react to situations and we continue to die? It’s life that is involved here,” Duterte said.

Duterte said he could only prevail upon the police and military to a certain extent.

“So, once I am not able to prevent them, and there will be an all-out offensive, that will be a problem. And if I give the order, I will no longer withdraw it,” he said, adding he might just leave the problem for the next president to solve.

“I will wait for the next president to do what he wants with Mindanao. Kasi gusto ko talagang tapusin itong mga masasama. Tutal we are ready to listen, we want to reconfigure Mindanao, tayo, we will do it, we just talk,” he said.

“But the monkey wrench of the whole situation now is the BIFF and they continue to inflict. They continue to burn, ambush, detonate bombs, real full-blown terrorism,” Duterte said.

Working for peace

Duterte said the government has always been trying to work for peace, even entertaining many who “wanted to reconfigure” the region.

“Fine, if it’s the will of the people, go ahead. Our patience has no limit,” he said. “My fear is, these are petty quarrels and ambuscades here, and yet, I direct our Armed Forces… But I tell them we cannot wage a war against our people. We would be in a difficult situation. We cannot allow attacks, and invariably the police and the military will be called in, and that’s where the conflict follows,” he said.

“The BIFF and the allied terrorists here are waging a war against each other, against the local government and against the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  I direct the soldiers, if there is trouble, go there. But this cannot go on,” Duterte added.

Earlier in the day, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte wanted to ensure that local executives and local police are on top of the peace and order situation in Mindanao.

Roque said the President wanted to discuss further with executives of the BARMM and the local officials to prevent bloodshed in the near future. – John Unson

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