Duterte says Mindanao now relatively peaceful

Published March 13, 2022, 12:41 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte said that the country had attained peace in Mindanao, particularly with the establishment of the new autonomous region in the south and by cultivating good relations with the Muslim population.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang Photo)

In an interview with his friend Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on Saturday, March 12, Duterte said the different groups in Mindanao have started to calm down.

“I think we (now) have (a) relatively peaceful Mindanao. The contentious issue in the yesterdays were the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) at napagbigyan naman natin si Murad (and we were able to please Murad),” he said, referring to BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim.

“Dito sa Jolo, in-order-an ko ang Armed Forces [of the Philippines] (AFP) to place one division, marami ‘yan. And so medyo nagkalma na (Here in Jolo, I ordered the AFP to place one division, there are lots of them. So things have calmed down now),” he added.

The President said he was able to establish a good rapport with the Moro of Mindanao.

“I think that just allow them in the governance of our country and give them enough elbow room to, you know, just govern without [the] interference of armed groups,” he added. He noted that only the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is sowing mayhem because of political differences.

He likewise claimed that, for the longest time, the region had not had any kidnapping incidents, as well as attacks on security forces or depredation victims.

The Muslim population’s animosity with the government has also waned after the administration addressed the issues concerning Mindanao, he pointed out.

“The Moro hatred dahang-dahang nawala sa kanila because gipagbigyan natin sila sa lahat at anong hiningi nila. As a matter of fact, pinakamarami sa administrasyon ko na maraming mga Moro (The Moro hatred slowly disappeared because we were able to give them what they were asking. As a matter of fact, most of the people in my administration are Moros),” Duterte said.

The President cited the appointments of Muslims in the government, such as Saidamen Pangarungan as the new chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), justices in the Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals, as well as officials in different government agencies.

“Even in the Cabinet may tatlo ako o apat noon, namatay lang si [Datu Abul Khayr] Alonto (I had three or four before, Alonto just died), and one was — got sick. But there were four of them of the maybe three and half years of my term,” he said.

“So sinadya ko ‘yan para wala silang masabi (I intended that so they won’t say) that they are being left out. And for the long list of prosecutors and judges, marami akong in-appoint, lady Moro judges at ‘yung mga prosecutors (I appointed many lady Moro judges and prosecutors),” he added.

Militarily, President Duterte said the government had achieved its objectives in keeping the peace in Mindanao, stressing if the equilibrium is maintained, the region will be trouble-free.

He also mentioned during the interview the administration’s successes in modernizing the AFP, noting that his government doubled the AFP’s budget for its modernization thrust. He said the AFP now has a fleet of new fighter jets, helicopters, and heavy-lift aircraft.

“I would say that we have a strong military. That is what I promised. I said that I’ll leave the presidency with a strong military,” he said.

Duterte said the government also increased personnel pay, boosting their morale.

“I cannot make you very happy, but I can assure you of a comfortable life,” he recalled telling the military and police.

“Ngayon, makabili na. Sa totoo lang ‘yung — maski ‘yung ano ko mga policewoman ko na sama-sama ko, nakapagbili na sila ng ‘yung maliliit na Toyota (Now they are able to buy their cars. Even the policewoman who’s with me was able to buy a small Toyota),” he said.