DAVAO CITY—President Aquino said the reported attack of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces against the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu was not sanctioned by the government.
Speaking to reporters, Aquino said that the MNLF did not inform the government that it was staging an attack against the Abu Sayyaf.
He said the government’s priority is to evacuate and ensure the safety of civilians caught in the crossfire.
“Walang sanction, walang clearance. They didn’t tell us that they’re gonna attack the Abu Sayyaf. Sunday when I first heard about the clash, unang priority natin syempre ‘yung mga citizens, our civilians who might be caught up in the conflict areas. So we directed both the security services, meaning the AFP and the PNP, and also Secretary [Dinky] Soliman of the DSWD, to ensure that the civilians who might be caught up in the areas are evacuated to safe areas and taken care of,” Aquino told reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Development Forum.
Looking forward, Aquino is hoping that the creation of the Bangsamoro will address the root causes of the conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“‘Yung isang entity na talagang mas tutugon sa suliranin, sa inaasam ng mga kababayan natin lalo na doon sa ARMM, ‘yan ang tutugon pang-matagalan sa problemang umiiral rito,” he said.