'Davao blast a sign of Islamic State's unity in PH,' says Abu Rami
ZAMBOANGA CITY - A spokesman of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Saturday said the deadly blast in Davao City, which left 14 persons dead and more than 70 others wounded, is a message to the government that they are not afraid of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to destroy the bandits operating in Sulu and Basilan.
Abu Rami, the spokesperson of the ASG in Sulu, said even if they are outnumbered by the thousands of soldiers deployed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Sulu, they are ready to engage the enemy to defend their territory.
He said, the attack at a night market in Davao City is also a call for unity to all mujahideen and the Islamic State (IS), to whom they have pledged allegiance.
"This is only an initial, not a beginning but only an initial, ito ay ipinapakita lang namin na ang IS ay may unity na, may pagkakaisa na sa Pilipinas, at ito ay sinimulan namin para ipahiwatig namin sa Presidente Duterte na kami ay hinde natatakot sa kung sino-sino, kahit ipadala niya pa dito ang lahat ng tropa ng Pilipinas dito sa Jolo, kung sinasabi niya yung tactics niya na gi-giyerahin niya kami, makuha niya kami lahat, sino ba siya?"
(This is only an initial, not a beginning but only an initial...this shows that the Islamic State is already united, that it is united in the Philippines, and we did this to show President Duterte that we are not afraid of anyone, even if he sends all the troops of the Philippines to Jolo, he talks of the tactic of destroying us, that he will capture all of us, who is he?)
Rami also said that the bombing in Davao City was not intended to divert the focus of the government forces who have been pouring resources and logistics to intensify their offensives against the ASG in Sulu and Basilan.
"That's not a diversionary tactic. Alam mo naman ang gobyerno, marami silang strategy sa words kagaya ng ginagamit nilang 'terorista,' na kung iano mo, ikompara mo ang characteristic ng isang terorista ay nandyan naman sa kanila," he said.
(That's not a diversionary tactic. You know the government, they have this strategy, even in words, they use the term terrorist, but if you compare the characteristic of a terrorist, it's with the government.)
The ASG, he said, intentionally chose Davao City as the target to send a strong message to Duterte that they will never back down following the government's call to crush the bandits and put an end to the kidnapping menace in southern Philippines and neighboring countries.
"Yun ay pauna lamang, dahil kung titingnan natin ay parang itinarget niya talaga ang Jolo, Sulu, kaya gaya nga ng sinabi namin na itatarget din namin kung saan siya nanggaling," Rami said.
(That's just the start because you see, he has really targeted Jolo, Sulu, so we said we will also target where he comes from.)
He also challenged Duterte to seek guidance from the Koran so he can determine whether the operation against the ASG is right or wrong.
"Sana magbago na siya at titingnan niya ang Koran, kung yun ba ay tama para sa kanya o mali, kung mali yun sa kanya, hinde siya totoong makatarungan hinde siya totoong tao, hinde siya totoong presidente," he said.
(I hope he changes and reads the Koran, so he can see whether this is wright or wrong. If he does not think it is wrong, he is not really for justice, he is not a realy person, he is not a real president.)
Meanwhile, the police and military in Zamboanga City are on full alert following the deadly blast in Davao City.
Police officers and members of Task Force Zamboanga are visible in almost every public place and big establishments in the downtown area.
Random security checkpoints have also been established on major roads to thwart any security threat from lawless groups.