EVEN though he ordered the government troops to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf bandits, President Rodrigo Duterte appealed Wednesday to the extremist group to fight squarely with the military by avoiding “brutality and cruelty.”
“You (Abu Sayyaf) killed unnecessarily. You mutilate the body of a human being. That’s too much…It has deteriorated in some kind of cannibalism,” the President said during the wake of 15 slain soldiers held in Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.
“You mangle the face and the body. For what? You think Allah would be happy to see you do that?” he added.
Duterte was reacting to the bandits' claims that they beheaded one of the 15 soldiers they killed during the encounter in Jolo’s Patikul municipality.
The military, however, denied that there were soldiers decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf.
On the government’s side, the President said he had instructed the military to fight without doing any barbarous acts. He pleaded the extremists to do the same.
“This I ask: Fight but do not add grief to the family by destroying the body. I will never do that. I will not allow brutality and cruelty,” Duterte said. “If there is misunderstanding, you should avoid such style by mauling the person’s body.”
Duterte also acknowledged the gallantry of the fallen soldiers and lauded them for dying for the country.
“I salute those who died [in the battle with the Abu Sayyaf]. I never salute anyone. I can respect a person but you can never see me salute. That’s my attitude. But those who died for the Republic of the Philippines where I am now the President, of course, I consider everybody there the fallen heroes at the back. They are all heroes for the Filipinos,” he said.
The President also condoled with the bereaved families of the slain military officers and assured them that they would receive assistance from the government.
He also guaranteed them that he would do his best to stop the Abu Sayyaf menace.
“I share my grief not only to the fallen soldiers. Everybody, I express my condolences…I am sorry that this has to happen. I do not want it happen again, if possible,” Duterte said.
“We want to end this war. I do not want to continue, even for a day,” he added. (Sunnex)