Duterte worries about ISIS, hopes PH will be spared

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President Rodrigo Duterte expresses concern over a possible ISIS attack, saying it might derail government efforts to bring peace to Mindanao. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday expressed concern over threats of a possible attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines.

“Just like Iraq, Syria, na maraming inosenteng tao ang nadadali [where many innocent people are affected],” Duterte said during the oathtaking of newly-appointed officials in Malacañang.

The President said he hopes the Philippines will be spared from a possible ISIS attack.

“I’m praying - I really pray, talagang lumuluhod ako sa Diyos [I am kneeling before God] to spare us that kind of brutality and cruelty in our country - because it will really be bloody,” he added.

Foreign terrorists were reportedly being harbored by the Sulu faction of the local terror group Abu Sayyaf. The faction is led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the supposed ISIS leader in the Philippines.

Sawadjaan was linked to the Jolo, Sulu blasts earlier in the year.

In July, Duterte said he is preparing government troops to battle the global extremist group. Earlier, the President also said ISIS would not gain a foothold in the Philippines during his term.

The president also warned that an ISIS attack would derail peace efforts in Mindanao.

The administration sees the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as a means to address the insurgency problem in the country's second-largest island.

However, the President expressed concern over “sparks” that would “tend to maybe derail the smooth transition for the Bangsamoro people”, referring to a possible ISIS attack.

Duterte said he is still trying to get Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari’s support for the BARMM. A breakaway faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has already expressed approval for the newly-formed Bangsamoro government. The BARMM’s interim Chief Minister is MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim.

“I am praying to God that Nur Misuari will be enlightened and he’ll be able to accept maybe the same terms we’ve extended to Murad. It’s the only way without a breakage in our society,” Duterte said.