MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a full-press military operation against terrorist groups particularly the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to international terror group ISIS (Islamic State), in Lanao area.
President Duterte made this statement after a joint conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday night.
”I have ordered a full-press military operation. That is why I said to the military and the police, you embargo the place, you contain them in that area alone, Lanao,” the President said.
”I have also asked the Armed Forces to use all available assets and all the weaponry that’s at our disposal,” he added.
The President said he also sent an urgent message to China to help the Philippines’ campaign against terrorism by offering the country loan to acquire precision-guided arms.
”The greatest danger mankind is facing is really extremism. The ISIS is recruiting everybody. The ISIS, they said, come hell or high water, they will establish the caliphate,” he said.
President Duterte, however, clarified the situation in Lanao does not warrant the imposition of the martial law.
”When the time comes that people are asking for it, I’ll give it to them. Remember these Filipinos, if you ask for it, Mr. President, let’s declare martial law, my response, I’ll think about it first,” Duterte said.
The President said as of now, there is no need to declare martial law, saying he is contented with the present military operations against terrorists.
Duterte said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is now the leader of ISIS in the Philippines.
”I don’t know if it covers Malaysia and Indonesia. But he is now the top honcho of the ISIS here. He is billeted somewhere in Lanao and we have a fulltime military operation there,” the President said.
Last Friday, President Duterte appealed to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) not to provide sanctuary to terrorists in their respective areas.