Duterte asks BARMM to help gov't deal with rebels to avoid 'bloody' all-out offensive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday appealed to local officials in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to help his administration control rebels in the region to avoid an "all-out offensive."

"Nagmamakaawa ako sa inyo tulungan niyo ko (I am begging you to help me). Because otherwise, if I give out an order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and it will be sad. Iyon ang ayaw ko (I do not want that)," Duterte said in a speech before BARMM officials in Maguindanao.

"If I give the order, I will no longer withdraw it," he added.

The President said the conflict "cannot go on," adding it will "cost innocent lives."

His remarks came after some members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) - a breakaway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - stormed a town in Maguindanao. The MILF is leading the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim government of the BARMM.

On May 8, government troops clashed with a number of BIFF gunmen who caused a stir at a public market in Datu Paglas, prompting residents to evacuate, officials said.

No deaths and property damage were reported. But Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Cirilito Sobejana said at least four BIFF members were injured.

Sobejana also said the commotion could be a diversionary tactic from the military's focus on other areas in Maguindanao.

Duterte slammed the BIFF for its continued attacks.

"But the monkey wrench of the whole situation now is the BIFF... They continue to burn, ambush, detonate bombs. Talagang (It's really) full-blown terrorism," he said.