Philippine President appeals to Muslim rebels not to provide sanctuary for terrorists

He also warned that he might be forced to scrap his administration’s plan to talk peace with both Muslim rebel groups.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

He made the appeal to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels during his visit to wounded soldiers at Camp Siongco Station Hospital in Maguindanao province.

He warned that he would be forced to order the military to conduct operations in MNLF- and MILF-controlled camps if it is proven that these camps are being used to protect Islamic State terrorists.

“I am earnestly asking the MNLF and MILF not to provide sanctuary to terrorists, or we will be forced to go after them within your territory."

“And that would mean trouble for all of us. I don’t want that to happen,’’ he said.

Duterte’s appeal came a day after his defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said the Philippines has received intelligence that the Middle East-based extremists are seeking closer links with the violent Abu Sayyaf militants.

Lorenzana told newsmen that the IS militants have instructed a local extremist leader, Isnilon Hapilon, to look for an area in Mindanao island in southern Philippines where the IS rebels can operate.

“Isnilon left his traditional area of operation on Basilan island and went to Lanao del Sur to see the area and find out if it is convenient for them to move there,’’ Lorenzana claimed.

Lanao del Sur is on the main Mindanao island in southern Philippines.

Duterte said on Jan. 9 that the IS’ brutal and violent ideology has allegedly reached the Philippines.

“We are now of the opinion in the Cabinet that the IS ideology is here to stay,”  he said in a speech at the presidential palace.

“They are outdoing each other in brutality, the more brutal you are in raising the ideology the more credential that you may have for a recognition."

“That’s exactly what is happening. So, we have this problem of terrorism,’’ Duterte said.

Report says the MNLF and the MILF are the two biggest Muslim rebel groups operating in southern Philippines, while the Abu Sayyaf is a smaller group notorious for kidnapping-for-ransom and bombings in southern Philippines.

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