Duterte: Philippine Army Must "Destroy" Kidnappers
In an address on Wednesday, Philippine president Rodrigro Duterte called on the nation's military to obliterate the Abu Sayyaf Group, which has kidnapped crewmembers from half a dozen tugboats in the Sulu Sea over the past six months.
"Destroy them, that's an order," he said. "I see a looming problem, in three to seven years from now, we will have a problem with ISIS."
Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization Islamic State, and Duterte described ISIS’ ideology as a "disease."
"There is something wrong in their minds, killing people unnecessarily without question. They burn people to death for apparently no reason at all," he said.
Duterte added that he believed there were already ISIS recruiters in Mindanao, and "that's what we should be scared of. Just like the communists . . . that's alarming because they are conditioning the minds."
Duterte also told the assembled group of army servicemembers that he would be providing new weaponry and a steady stream of new recruits. As for tactics, Duterte has said in the past that he will defend any member of the military accused of wrongdoing in the course of the campaign against terrorists.
Abu Sayyaf is not the only militant group in Mindanao with ties to ISIS: the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a small hardline faction of the Moro insurgency, has also pledged its allegiance.
Separately, on Tuesday, four members of Abu Sayyaf were killed in a skirmish with fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front, which is cooperating with Philippine government forces. The MNLF was engaged in joint efforts to free seven Indonesian tugboat crewmembers who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf earlier this year.