Duterte’s Willingness to Sacrifice Hostages to Decimate Abu Sayyaf Similar to His Strategy in His Drug War, Say Critics!

The critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is once again raising a howl on the recent pronouncement of the outspoken Filipino chief executive when he recently said that he is willing to sacrifice hostages just for the military to decimate the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group from Mindanao, the southernmost region of the country.

Last week, Duterte said that the Abu Sayyaf terrorists should not assume that they will be spared if they use hostages as human shields in order to protect themselves from military assaults.

He said that he is actually willing to sacrifice the lives of hostages if the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers remain stubborn and continue with their criminal ways.

The Philippine President said that the hostages can just be considered as collateral damages when the military starts bombing the lair of Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups in Mindanao, reports Breitbart.

With such mindset on the war against terror, many of his critics believe that it is also the same ploy used by Duterte on his war against illegal drugs. They believe that the President wanted to rid the streets of illegal drugs and the extra-judicial killings are the collective collateral damage, which the Philippine President also admitted sometime last year.

War on terror

Duterte has launched a new initiative against Abu Sayyaf, a radical jihadist group which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The concentration of their terror activities is in Mindanao.

Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said last week that the military had six months to eradicate the terrorist group completely, admitting that it was a tall order for them from the President.

Duterte had previously vowed to eat Abu Sayyaf terrorists in front of people alive and raw. He has also admitted that he has cousins who fight for the Islamic State, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and other terrorist groups in the area.

The Philippine military issued a report in October estimating that Abu Sayyaf had generated $7.3 million in kidnap-for-ransom activities between January and June of 2016.

While the Philippines has an official policy of not paying ransom to Abu Sayyaf, foreigners have paid to free their relatives, primarily Indonesian nationals.

Intensifying campaign against terrorist groups

Duterte announced his plan to ramp up the campaign against Abu Sayyaf after visiting the wake of a Philippine soldier killed in a Special Forces operation against the terrorist group, leaving behind a three-year-old daughter. The soldier was the nation’s first military loss of 2017.

While announcing the new initiative to eradicate Abu Sayyaf, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines clarified that Duterte had not given any orders to disregard loss of hostage lives in operations against the terror group.

The presidential office also clarified that Duterte’s repeated mentions of martial law did not mean he intended to impose it.

Presidential Communications Officer Martin Andanar said that the president has categorically said no to martial law. He even made a pronouncement saying that martial law did not improve the lives of the Filipinos when it was imposed by then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Andanar described the published reports as misreporting and the height of journalistic irresponsibility.

In a statement last week, Duterte said that if he has to declare martial law, he will declare it. But he mentioned that it is not about invasion, insurrection or danger. He said that he will do so to protect the Philippines.

A number of Philippine senators have implored Duterte to leave martial law off the table in the case of Abu Sayyaf.

Duterte has previously stated that he had told his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts that their forces can blast away as they pursue militants who abduct sailors in waters where the three countries converge and bring their kidnap victims to the southern Philippines, reports News.com.au.

The Philippine President’s latest remarks reflect the alarm and desperation of the Philippines, along with Malaysia and Indonesia, in halting a series of ransom kidnappings primarily by Abu Sayyaf militants and their allies along a busy waterway for regional trade.

Incidentally, a ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed a South Korean captain and his Filipino crewmen who were abducted three months ago from their cargo ship.

The gunmen handed skipper Park Chul-hong and Glenn Alindajao over to Moro National Liberation Front rebels, who turned them over to Philippine officials in southern Jolo town in predominantly Muslim Sulu province.

The Moro rebels, who signed a 1996 peace deal with the government, have helped negotiate the release of several hostages of the smaller but more violent Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings, and bombings.

Meanwhile, Duterte has also issued an order last week directing the appropriate government agencies to provide some six million marginalized Filipino women free contraceptives.

The decision was met with wild opposition and criticisms not just by the dominant Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines but also critics of Duterte who believe that the order is only a temporary and stop-gap measure to address the burgeoning population of the country.

The executive order implements a landmark legislation signed by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Simeon Aquino III. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, also called the RPRH Act, provides poor women access to reproductive health information and services.

The law, which was fiercely fought by abortion rights advocates, recognizes the right of Filipinos to decide freely and responsibly on their desired number and spacing of children.

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