President Rodrigo Duterte offered on Wednesday a P1-million reward for any information that would lead to the capture or death of each member of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf as he expressed readiness to arm civilians in the government’s fight against terrorism and criminality.
Duterte, speaking to reporters after a security briefing in Bohol where recent clashes between Philippine security forces and the Abu Sayyaf led to several deaths, said that he was offering P1 million for information on each member of the group. The president added that the tipsters need not disclose their names or any other personal information.
“I have you P1-million offer per person ako. Tip lang ibigay mo sa pulis pati military. No questions asked. Do not even give your name. Sabi mo lang saan sila at gobyerno na ang bahala,” the chief executive said.
Last week, six Abu Sayyaf bandits and four security personnel were killed following clashes between the group and the Philippine military and police in Inabanga town in Bohol. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is looking into claims that two of the six supposed Abu Sayyaf were actually an elderly civilian couple.
Aside from spooking businesses, the terrorist group’s foray into Central Visayas has damaged the country’s tourism prospects after several foreign governments issued travel warnings on the Philippines following the clash.
One of those killed by security forces was Abu Rami, a subleader of the group and one of those allegedly responsible for the beheading of several foreigners.
The president said that he was in Bohol to warn residents and tourists of the “criminal” activity of some groups in the region, as he ordered the military and the police to capture these individuals “dead or alive.”
He said the modus operandi was for some local groups to kidnap victims and transfer them to other groups operating in Mindanao, especially Sulu, that would require a higher ransom for them.
“It’s a criminal activity that’s being perpetrated now. So nandito ako just to warn everybody about the practice,” the president said.
‘Fight and kill, dead or alive’
Duterte also said that he was willing to arm civilians to fight criminals and terrorists.
“My orders to the police to the lahat and even civilians who are interested to fight and kill… ang order ko is dead or alive,” Duterte said.
The president said that if a civilian kills a terrorist or criminal, he should just go to the police and report the incident. He promised support and protection if this happens.
“I intend to also arm the civilians. And I will include the civilians. Kapag nakapatay ka, you don’t have to worry. You just have to go to the police and make a report and state your truth. Wala kang problema. I’ll take care of you,” he said.
The president also returned to his usual refrain of preferring to have dead criminals, saying that the government would have to feed them if they were captured alive.
“Mas gusto ko yung dead kasi kapag alive magpakain pa ako, Ma’am,” he said.