MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday talked about his visit to Cotabato City to address the attacks perpetuated by militant groups in the area.
In his second Talk to the Nation this week, Duterte said he just arrived Wednesday from a quick visit to Jolo and Cotabato City.
"I just arrived last night. Galing ho ako ng probinsiya, pumunta ho ako ng...I went there, pumunta ako ng Jolo. My mission was another one. Jolo pati Kabakan? Cotabato City, rather, dahil sa ongoing strike doon na marami na ang napinsala pati lahat," he said.
(I just arrived last night. I came from the province. I went there, I went to Jolo. My mission was another one. I went to Jolo and Cotabato City because of the ongoing strike there where a lot has been damaged.)
Duterte said he issued a warning to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to stop its attacks on civilians.
"I just gave a warning and I mean it, because next time around, I do not think that I will be in a position to withdraw my... Kapag nasabi ko na 'yan...Yung nakikinig, alam 'yan. Basta pumunta ako ng problema sa Cotabato. Ang problema doon, BIFF and others, and they continue to plunder, look for trouble and inflict violence upon the poor," he said.
(I just gave a warning and I mean it, because because next time around, I do not think that I will be in a position to withdraw...Once I've said it...The listeners understand. I went there to Cotabato because of the problem. The problem there is the BIFF and the others, and they continue to plunder, look for trouble and inflict violence upon the poor.)
"Ang talo talaga diyan ang sibilyan eh. Eh magka-rebolusyon, magka-giyera, the sum of it all, kung sino ang pinakakawawa, ang sibilyan. Ang mga anak natin, pati ang mga babae at matatanda. And even those do not want war and only want to live in peace in this planet," Duterte added.
(The civilians are the ones who suffer. When there's war, a revolution, the sum of it all, the children, women and the elderly are the ones who suffer the most. And even those do not want war and only want to live in peace in this planet.)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Duterte will talk to meet with Bangsamoro region officials, military, and the police in Cotabato City, days after the group attacked a nearby town.
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.
On Wednesday, military clashed with the fleeing militants anew. Four BIFF members died in the encounter.
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.