President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday appealed to the military to protect Mindanao from terrorists amid threats from supporters of the Islamic State in the south.
Duterte made the appeal in a speech before soldiers in Maguindanao where he reiterated the importance of Mindanao in terms of the country's food security.
“Pag nagkagulo dito sa Mindanao, the economy will suffer kasi andito ang ating bread (sic) basket,” he said, noting that Luzon and Visayas cannot support the food supply of the whole country.
Apart from being an agricultural hub, Duterte added that Mindanao should be protected since it has grown to be a melting pot of Muslims and Christians.
Duterte also congratulated the military for its offensive against terror groups staying in Butig, Lanao del Sur and asked that the military sustain such efforts.
“I will be asking you, am pleading with you to make this sacrifice. We have to sustain it because we have to protect Mindanao,” Duterte said.
The military on Thursday midnight dropped two bombs in Butig in an effort to capture Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is reported to be the new recognized “emir” or leader of the Islamic State group in the Philippines.
Duterte highlighted anew the need for a federal system of government, a promise he has made to Moros, to put an end to rebellion in Mindanao.
“If we do not give it to them or convert Mindanao into a federal system or the entire country for that matter, talagang walang katapusan ito,” he said.