Duterte: Abu Sayyaf Group are not criminals

  • President Rodrigo Duterte does not regard the Abu Sayyaf Group as criminals
  • He says there is lack of governance in their area that is why they are pushed to ‘desperation’
  • He also promises to achieve piece in two to three years

President Rodrigo Duterte said he refuse to call the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)  as criminals because they are in a “different set up there” in Mindanao.

“I’m not including Abu Sayyaf in criminality. You never heard me say ‘criminals’,” the President said in mixed language during his speech at the Hariraya Puasa celebration in Davao City on Friday, July 8.

“It is a different set up there because these were the guys driven to desperation,” he said as he noted the lack of governance in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“There was no sufficient semblance of governance. And that is why they are pushed to the wall,” he was again quoted in a GMA News Online story.

Duterte earlier said that he is open to holding a dialogue with the bandit group after freeing their Filipino kidnap victim Marites Flor.

Flor was captured by the ASG in September last year at Samal Island in Davao City. She was held captive together with Canadian boyfriend Robert Hall, another Canadian John Risdel and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

Hall and Risdel were earlier beheaded while Sekkingstad remains captive. Duterte earlier said that he will negotiate with the ASG to free the Norwegian.

Meanwhile, the President also said in his speech that if Filipinos are not keen on favoring federalism, he would rather support the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“Let us build a nation founded on peace,” he said in an article by Manila Bulletin.

He also promised to ensure peace within his six-year term.

“It will not come overnight, not next year. It will be something in two to three years. I assure something will change before the end of my term,” he said.