MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday will visit Cotabato province to urge the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to stop using violence, his spokesman said on Tuesday, just days after the militants stormed a nearby southern town.
Duterte from Davao City will head to Cotabato and meet with Bangsamoro region officials, military, and the police, said his spokesman Harry Roque.
"Ang objective po ng Presidente, para iparating ang mensahe na hindi po niya puwedeng pabayaan ang kaniyang katungkulan na ipatupad ang batas," he said in a press briefing.
(The objective of the President is to relay the message that he will not ignore his responsibility to enforce the law.)
About 20 BIFF members over the weekend occupied a market in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao province in the Bangsamoro region, forcing residents to flee. BIFF members shot it out with soldiers, who later drove away the militants.
"Dahil nga po doon sa insidente kung saan ilang miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nagtungo sa Datu Paglas, ang kaniyang mensahe, ang warning niya po talaga, ipatutupad niya ang batas at hindi niya kukunsintihin ang paggamit ng dahas," said Roque.
(Due to the incident in which some members of the BIFF temporarily went to Datu Paglas, his message, his warning is he will enforce the law and he will not condone the use of violence)
The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which brokered for peace with the government. Former MILF leaders are now heading the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
Referring to the Bangsamoro government's efforts to quell militants, Roque said, "Alam ko po nakikipagtulungan naman sila sa atin dahil hurisdiksyon nila po yan."
"Pero hindi naman po natin sinurender 'yong kapangyarihan ng Presidente at 'yan po ang kanyang mensahe, na gagamitin niya ang buong pwersa ng gobyerno para supilin ang paggamit ng dahas," he said in a radio interview.
(From what I know, they are cooperating with us because that is their jurisdiction. But we did not surrender that power of the President, and that is his message, that he will use the full force of government to eradicate the use of violence.)