President Rodrigo Duterte in a quick visit to Bohol on Wednesday said that he intends to enlist the aid of civilians to hasten the capture of the remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits who survived the Inabanga clash last week.
“I intend to also arm the civiliansâ€¦if you kill, you do not have to worry,â€ Duterte said in an interview in Tagbilaran City. â€œYou just go to the police and make a report and state your truth and you won’t have any problem. â€œ
Duterte who was in Bohol for a security briefing for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meetings in the province assured that if civilians “kill” the militants, they will have immunity from any criminal liability.
â€œI’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you,” he said.
However, the President noted that he would still have to consult local officials regarding his plan, while Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters in Manila that the statement was just for â€œdramatics.â€
In the same briefing in Bohol, Duterte also offered a P1-million reward for those who relay information that would lead to the capture, â€œdead or alive,â€ of each of the remaining Abu Sayyaf militant.
For his part, Department of National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenza in a separate interview in Bohol said that the banditsâ€™ days in the province â€œare numberedâ€ as intensified manhunt operations are sustained.
In previous reports, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had noted that there are around eight Abu Sayyaf men left including Boholano Joselito Melloria who is now believed to be leading the band of militants.
Five suspected Abu Sayyaf men were killed in the gun battle in Inabanga which also resulted in the deaths of a policeman and three soldiers. (Rey Tutas)