President Duterte warned today (Wednesday, April 19) that he might “invade” an island stronghold of Abu Sayyaf to “finish the game” following the foiled kidnapping raid on Bohol last week.
The president also offered cash rewards for the capture, dead or alive, of six militants still at large following the clash on the island, which left six rebels and four members of the security forces dead.
The gun battle on the popular tourist island followed a US Embassy warning about travel to the region, citing unconfirmed intelligence of possible kidnap plans.
The attack represented a new chapter for the Islamic State-affiliated terror group, happening hundreds of miles from its southern strongholds on Jolo, Tawi Tawi and Basilan islands.
The president said that the group must not be allowed to extend its reach. “I will, maybe, invade Jolo,” Duterte told reporters after a security briefing in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. “All army, navy, will go there. It will be a fight. That’s what they want, I will give it.”
Referring to Abu Sayyaf’s strongholds, he said: “They must stay there. My order to the navy… is to blow them up, no surrender. Shoot cannons, destroy them.”
Duterte said he wanted civilians to join the manhunt on Bohol and offered a reward of six million pesos ($120,668) for each of the six fugitives.
He also warned that Abu Sayyaf might try to “create a disaster” at a meeting of trade officials of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) being held on Bohol from today.
While discussing the terror threat, the president predictably veered onto the topic of his war on drugs. “My order is dead or alive. My enemy is drugs and terrorists,” he said. “These drug addicts, they have firearms. Almost all of them are really paranoid. They fight.”