Mga Militar Makipagbakbakan Na Sa Mga Terror Groups sa Southern Philppines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The government's all-out war to stamp out terrorism and end decades of conflict in the southern Philippines begins.
"I would like to inform my fellow Mindanaoans and Filipinos that operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups are now in full swing," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement Tuesday.
"Your AFP will use its ground, air, and sea assets against our enemies and leave them no room for escape," Lorenzana said.
He urged Filipinos living in the conflict areas to cooperate with the military.
"As always, foremost on the minds of your defenders are your safety and those of the poor hostages who are being heartlessly used as human shields," he added.
Lorenzana also asked them not to harbor terrorists, to avoid any untoward incident or injury.
"Huwag ninyong tutulungan ang mga terorista. Kung tatakbo sila sa mga bahay n'yo, huwag ninyo silang patutuluyin, kakanlungin at itatago," Lorenzana said. [Do not help the terrorists. If they run to your homes, do not let them in, give shelter, or hide them.]
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Members of terror groups such as Abu Sayyaf, the Maute group, or splinter factions of the Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF] or Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] have relatives in provinces of Mindanao that are considered strongholds of terror groups such as Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Jolo.
Lorenzana pleaded with relatives to dissuade them from their terrorist activities.
"Kung mga kamag-anak o kaibigan ninyo sila at gusto n'yo silang sagipin, kumbinsihin n'yo silang magbalik-loob sa pamahalaan habang may panahon pa," Lorenzana said. [If they are your relatives or friends and you want to save them, convince them to surrender to the government while there's still time.]
The "war against terrorism and violent extremism" is not just the responsibility of the AFP, he added.
"It is a war every Filipino citizen must fight in order to attain lasting peace and usher in development to Mindanao and the entire nation," Lorenzana said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has previously ordered the military "to use all available assets and weaponry" in combating terrorist groups in Southern part of the country particularly in Lanao del Sur.
He also called on the MILF and the MNLF not to provide sanctuary to terrorist groups in their areas.
Also read: Duterte threatens 'might of the Republic' vs. terrorist coddlers
Otherwise, the President warns, there will be war and he will use "might of the Republic" to impose the government's stand.