PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s latest pronouncement that civilians in Bohol can take up arms to combat Abu Sayyaf bandits themselves was merely “dramatics” aimed at beefing up security in the province, Malacañang said on Thursday.
"In a sense, it was a dramatization of making sure that security is raised up in the area," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters, when sought for clarification on the President’s plan to arm civilians in light of the deadly clash in Bohol.
"That doesn't mean that every house will be having that. I'm assuming that part of the security civil defense, the ante would be pushed up," he added.
Duterte said Wednesday that he is considering arming civilians against terrorists but said that he is yet to consult local officials regarding his plan.
The President also offered P1-million bounty for the capture of each Abu Sayyaf bandits who managed to escape after an encounter with government forces in Inabanga, Bohol last April 11.
Five Abu Sayyaf militants, three soldiers, and a policeman were killed after the clash.
Abella said Duterte's remark is "something that is to be left to him" but explained that it is part of the Chief Executive's intention to just "raise security" in the province.
He said there is no official government policy yet on allowing civilians to take up arms to protect themselves against terrorists.
"Let's put it this way: the President has a way of underlining what he wants to do. It's not a policy direction. It’s not a policy at this stage, There's no paper to support that. But what I’m saying, it's his intention to raise security,” the presidential spokesperson said.
'Bohol still safe'
Abella meanwhile said local and foreign tourists should not worry, amid security threats in the province following the reported presence of terrorists.
He assured that it is “definitely” safe in Bohol as security forces continue to pursue efforts to mitigate the unlawful acts of the Abu Sayyaf group.
He was confident that the bloody clash would not cause adverse effect on the tourist arrivals in the country.
“The PNP’s (Philippine National Police) Regional Safety Battalion is also available in Bohol and in other areas. In other words, the administration is looking after security in the area,” Abella said.
“As far as we can, as far as we have, we have done our due diligence regarding the matter. However, on the whole, the tourists’ interest in the Philippines continue to surge. So it will all even up,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)