DAVAO CITY, November 26, 2016 — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday urged the Abu Sayyaf to talk peace with the government, saying his main consideration is the civilian population.
“I can be nasty. I can do an all-out war and invade the island, but there will be huge losses, including civilians, which is really what matters most,” the President said during his visit to Sulu to honor four soldiers who were killed and 13 soldiers who were wounded fighting the Abu Sayyaf.
Duterte had said last August that he would not enter into peace talks with the Abu Sayyaf after the terrorists beheaded an 18-year-old hostage.
At that time, he ordered the police and the military to “destroy” the Abu Sayyaf.
The President, however, has apparently changed his mind.
I can bomb the hell out of them… but what would it bring us? You kill 20,000, you wipe out, blast it to kingdom come… What matters most are the civilians. Would it bring us peace if we use force?” he said.
Duterte said he is willing to hold the talks alone if necessary.
If you want to talk I can go to them anywhere. I can go alone. Let us give our people a chance.
In his visit to Sulu, the President visited the families of four soldiers killed earlier this month in clashes with the Abu Sayyaf.
The families of the slain soldiers received P250,000 each in special financial assistance
Duterte also honored 13 injured soldiers at the Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital, giving them P110,000 in cash each.
Aside from this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also handed over its own financial aid.
The slain soldiers were identified as:
- Sgt. Sikal Akjam
- Sgt. Abrojer Sakili
- Pvt. Joel Decierdo
- Cpl. Ronnie Navarro.
The injured soldiers are:
- 2nd Lt. John Paul Bacsain
- Ssg. Abdunnur Said
- Cpl. Arasad Kahil
- Sgt. Ramon Medel
- Cpl. Julius Montealto
- Cpl. Jeffrey Barino
- Cpl. Saldi Sabdani
- Cpl. Luisito Bago
- Pfc. Alizon Ayoman
- Ssg. Aasam Abdulmajid
- Sgt. Danny Sakiri
- Pfc. Jurich Givero
- Pfc. Muhaliddin Mariga.
The injured soldiers were admitted to the hospital on November 18 at the height of the skirmishes with the terrorist group.
After Sulu, President Duterte went over to Zamboanga City to visit nine injured soldiers at the Camp Don Basilio Navarro General Hospital.
The soldiers each received P110,000 in SFA as well as one Glock 30s pistol each.