Duterte in limbo how to address terrorism during remaining years in power

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 11:28 AM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the candle-lighting and the offering of flowers at the blast site at Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 30, 2020. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA - With over two years left in power, President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday he is unsure how to handle the country's terrorism problem following twin explosions in the southern Philippines that left at least 15 dead and scores wounded.

On a rare trip since the lockdowns started in March, the President said he could not "fathom" how to address the country's terrorism and insurgency problem.

"May dalawang taon pa ako, ewan ko kung ano ang magawa ko talaga. But you know when you go into a [fight], may galit na 'yan. Mahirap ito aregluhin kasi lahat may sugat na sa puso. And it would take more than a generation to do this," Duterte said in an address to soldiers.

(I have two more years and I don't know what I can do. When you go on fighting, there is anger. It is difficult to settle because there is a scar in your heart, it would take more than a generation to do this.)

"I hope that anyone of my children would become a politician maski barangay captain lang that he’d be able also to do something about this problem of the Moro and the Christians," he added.

The first president from Mindanao, Duterte urged soldiers in Jolo, Sulu to "think about peace" even as they wage war against state enemies.

"Sa pagka ngayon, hindi ko mapigil ang mga sundalo ko kasi may mission sila and the mission is to crush the insurgents. And the insurgents, ang mission nila is for the greater glory of Allah," he said.

(I cannot stop the soldiers because they have a mission.)

"Now more than ever our nation needs our Armed Forces to ensure that these terrorists will never succeed in their pointless goals," he added.

During his trip to Jolo, the President also condoled with the grieving families of those killed in the twin blasts.

Last week's bombings in Jolo took at least 15 lives and left scores wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet but the military earlier identified as suspects the Indonesian widow of a 2019 Filipino suicide bomber and the wife of an Abu Sayyaf leader.

He kissed the ground in Jolo, an act which he dedicated to fallen soldiers and victims whose lives were "snuffed out for no reason at all." He also offered flowers and candles.

The military earlier identified as suspects to the attack an Indonesian widow of a 2019 Filipino suicide bomber, and the wife of an Abu Sayyaf leader.