With the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) ratified by Congress and signed into law, President Rodrigo Duterte turned his attention to the Abu Sayyaf Group, urging it to talk peace with the government.
The President also appealed to Moros to give the Bangsamoro law a chance.
He asked terror groups not to spark conflict or mount acts of violence while the BOL is being implemented.
“Huwag natin pasukan ‘yan. Hindi panahon natin ‘yan. Hindi ‘yung away na pwede tayong makipagsapalaran na ubusan. Mag-usap na lang. Iyong Abu Sayyaf, mag-usap na lang tayo (Let’s not go to war. It is not for us. Not the kind of fight that will finish all of us. Let’s just talk. Abu Sayyaf, let’s just talk),” the President said in a speech in Jolo, Sulu on Friday night.
“Iyong BBL tapos na. Bigyan lang natin ng panahon. Huwag tayong mag-giyera (The BBL has been signed. Let’s give it a chance. Let’s not go to war),” he added.
Duterte also expressed willingness to visit Abu Sayyaf camps as long as the terrorists promise not to harm him.
“Baka i-hostage mo ako. Ibigay ninyo ‘yung word of honor ninyo na hindi niyo ako kidnapin, hindi ninyo ako targetin, eh ‘di papasok ako doon, makipag-usap (I will go there but you might take me hostage. Give me your word of honor that you will not kidnap or target me, then I will come and to talk with you),” he said.
Duterte made the statement days after he signed the BOL, formerly known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the result of decades-long peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government.
The President asked the terror group to give him more time to address their grievances about Mindanao and government.
“Ngayon, may Presidente kayo na may dugong Moro. ‘Di bigyan ninyo ako konting panahon (Now you have a
President who is a Moro, give me a chance),” he said.
Duterte reiterated that civilians will suffer when war breaks out.
“Ang problema, ang mga mahirapan ang mga bata, matanda, pati mga babae. Mag-iwan lang tayo ng maraming orphans (The problem is the children, the elderly, and the women will be the ones who will suffer. We will only leave many orphans behind),” he said.
“Ano bang gawain natin? Magpatayan tayong lahat? Ako, pwede niyo akong patayin maski saan. Anong makukuha ninyo. O kung mamatay itong mga sundalo ko bukas, marami namang papasok. Walang katapusan (What should we do? Should we just kill each other? You can kill me anywhere, but what would that do)? If my soldiers die tomorrow, new ones will come in. This will never end),” he added.
Duterte also said he was willing to confer Abu Sayyaf members the Order of Lapu-Lapu, an award he gives to courageous soldiers fighting for the government.
“Ito ang binibigay ko sa mga sundalo ko. Iyong mga Abu Sayyaf na gusto ng medalya ng Lapu-Lapu, sabihin mo pagbalik ko kasi ako ang maglagay rin sa kanila para tabla. Pero walang away ha? (This is what I give my soldiers. Now, if there are Abu Sayyaf members who want this, too, tell me so when I return, I will give this to them so all will be fair. But there should be no more fights),” he said.
It was not the first time that the President expressed his openness to a dialogue with the Abu Sayyaf.
Days before he assumed the presidency in 2016, Duterte declared that the Abu Sayyaf was not his enemy and that he wanted to ask them if they were “willing to talk or do we just fight it out?”
Duterte also said he did not consider members of the group as criminals because they committed their illegal acts out of “desperation.” / BY CATHERINE S. VALENTE, TMT ON
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