President Duterte has said he does not know if he would turn to China or the USA for help if there were an outbreak of Islamic State-linked violence in Mindanao.
Speaking at the inauguration of a bridge widening project in Davao, the president wondered aloud if the US would be prepared to lay down the lives of soldiers for the Philippines.
“Because of the threat here in Mindanao, you must have an option of where to go,” he said today (Thursday, May 24).
“Is America ready to die for us? Are they ready to send their troops here? Or can I call China for more arms because we do not have it?”
The president also admitted that the Islamist terror threat was part of the reason he refused to stand up to China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
“If I have to fight Islamic State, but I am still fighting China, where do I go? Where do you think would we end up?” he said.
The president then described how he believed the Philippines would most likely be the next battleground of the Islamic State. He said that militants who have been pushed out of the Middle East are now looking to establish a new caliphate in Southeast Asia.
“So where would they set up camp? What’s the logical place? Mindanao,” he said.
“Where would they find the infidels to kill? They are not found aplenty in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Brunei. It’s right here.”
He acknowledged that the Islamic State militants were dangerous, saying “they do not know anything except to kill and destroy”.
“And sometimes in their crazy notion that they are the disciples of God, they will say that they will kill all infidels and infidels is — are the non-Muslims,” he added.