President Duterte has warned of ordering an all-out military offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) if local officials could not help the government quell the latest threat to peace and security in the south.
In his visit to Maguindanao Tuesday, the President lamented that the BIFF was engaged in “full-blown terrorism” and expressed concern for the safety of civilians.
“The monkey wrench of the whole situation now is the BIFF and they continue to inflict hindi lang maliliit (not only small attacks). They continue to burn, ambush, detonate bombs, talagang a full-blown terrorism,” Duterte said during a visit to a military camp in Maguindanao.
“Ngayon, nagmamakaawa ako sa inyo tulungan ninyo ako (Now, I’m pleading for your help) because otherwise, I said, if I give the order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and it will be sad,” he said before an assembly of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials as well as military and police officers.
Duterte said if he gives the order on the all-out offensive, he would no longer withdraw it. “I will wait for the next president to do what he wants with Mindanao,” he said.
The President made the appeal after several BIFF members attacked Datu Paglas, Maguindanao over the weekend. The armed Islamic State-linked fighters occupied a public market forcing residents to leave the area for safety. The rebels eventually left the place after a brief clash with government troops.
Duterte, in his remarks, expressed sadness over the latest violence, saying this “cannot go on.”
“I am moved to tears to see what is really happening now. It’s pure carnage and the ultimate beneficiaries of the violence created here are the civilians,” he said.
Despite raising the possible all-out offensive plan, Duterte still appeared reluctant to use such option even though “the violence is very much present.” He said he “loves” both Muslims and Christians and would not want to kill anyone.
“Nakikiusap ako (I am asking) because you know government cannot wage a war against his own people,” he said.
“Ayaw kong pumatay ng Muslim, ayaw kong pumatay ng Kristiyanos, gusto kong manahimik ang buhay natin sa mundong ito (I don’t want to kill Muslims, I don’t want to kill Christians. I want to live quietly in this world). You know, we live only once,” he added.