Duterte Asks Abu Sayyaf : Talk or Fight?

Cebu, 21 Ramadan 1437/27 June 2016 (MINA) – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants to know if the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) is open to holding a dialogue with the government or just continue its atrocities, GMA News reported.

In his speech at the thanksgiving party in Cebu on Saturday night, Duterte said he does not consider the Abu Sayyaf to be an enemy despite its tag as a militant group and involvement in kidnapping foreign nationals for ransom.

The tough-talking politician, however, said the group must be clear on whether it wants to be seen as an enemy.

“Abu Sayyaf, hindi ko sila kalaban. I know that is connected with the issue of Mindanao. Nais ko lang linawin, sila ba? Are they willing to talk or just fight it out?” he asked.

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Duterte posed the question to Abu Sayyaf because he said he is half-hearted about using public funds to buy arms that will kill fellow Filipinos.

“But I hate to buy rifles and bullets, cannons and bombs to kill a Filipino. I could hardly move my finger to sign a document buying things just to kill my fellowmen. Masakit. Masakit sa loob,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf, known for amassing tens of millions of dollars from kidnappings, has beheaded two Canadian nationals in recent weeks after ransom deadlines passed.

On Sunday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday confirmed the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped seven Indonesian sailors in the Sulu Sea last June 22.

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Talks with CPP, MILF, MNLF

At his thanksgiving party, Duterte expressed hope that the incoming administration’s efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels will bear positive results.

“I’m talking to the communists right now. I might succeed,” he said.

The President-elect appealed to communist rebels to honor the declaration of a ceasefire that would follow the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front on the third week of July.

“Well, wala pang formal declaration. Nag-uusap na kami ni [CPP founder Jose Maria] Sison and if there is a ceasefire, I hope that… Nakikiusap ako sa inyo, tigil muna tayo,” he told the rebels.

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Aside from efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels, Duterte said he is also holding dialogues with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front about ironing “whatever arrangement is acceptable for all.”

Duterte said he would feel accomplished if he will succeed in bringing lasting peace to the country, and eliminating illegal drugs and crime.  (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)