President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said civilians in Bohol can take up arms against Abu Sayyaf militants who recently clashed with state forces on the island, with some still at large.
Duterte also offered a P1-million bounty for each of the bandits who are still on the loose.
“My order is: to the police and the lahat, and even civilians interested to fight and kill, ang order ko is dead or alive,” Duterte told reporters in Bohol.
“Ang anim na scouring - kung saan sila makalanding, I have a one million (peso) offer, per person ako.”
The President said he is willing to “pardon” any civilian who will kill the bandits.
“I intend to also arm the civilians and I will include the civilians, pag nakapatay ka na, you don’t have to worry. Just go to the police and make a report and state your truth,” he said.
“Wala kang problema, I’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you. Whatever.”
At least 9 people were killed when police and soldiers clashed with 10 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group on the resort island of Bohol last Tuesday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still hunting down the remaining bandits.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen Restituto Padilla on Monday earlier said the AFP hopes to develop a number of leads on the whereabouts of the bandits.
"We are employing all available resources that we can use in the moment to expedite the operation," Padilla told ANC.
Padilla said authorities at the moment have no clear grasp on whether the Abu Sayyaf has established a foothold in Bohol, saying they were only sure that the terrorists had a local as a guide.
Flyers with the image of Joselito Melloria, the man said to be the guide of the Abu Sayyaf in the town of Inabanga, have been distributed by the Army to upland barangays in the hopes that locals will help locate the remaining bandits.