President Rodrigo Duterte said he will be forced to order the military to launch an full-scale offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) if officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) cannot deal with the armed group.
Duterte went to Maguindanao to dialogue with local officials there, or a few days after elements from the BIFF seized a public market in Datu Paglas town.
“I can order the military to press for a fight in order to impose peace. But if you cannot convince people — I know some of you, you have enemies — but you must do something,” he said partly in Filipino in a speech at Camp B. Gen. Gonzalo H. Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
“But if it cannot be prevented, and there will be an all-out offensive. That is the problem, And if I give the order, I will no longer withdraw it. I will wait for the next President to do what he wants with Mindanao,” he added in Filipino.
Around 200 heavily-armed BIFF members seized the public market of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao on Saturday morning.
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division was able to regain control of the Datu Paglas town market center on Saturday dawn.
The BIFF gunmen withdrew and splintered into small groups after a brief military air and ground assault.
Duterte said he was “moved to tears” when he learned about the recent development in Maguindanao.
“I am moved to tears to see what is really happening. It’s pure carnage and the ultimate beneficiaries of the violence created here are the civilians. We who are in the position, have money, and have arms, we do not have nary a care because we can do what we want with arms,” he said partly in Filipino. SOVEREIGNPH