Duterte tells BIFF: Stop causing trouble, inflicting violence to civilians

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday told militant groups to stop making civilians suffer as they continue to look for trouble and inflict violence among innocent people.

During his second address for the week, Duterte said he just returned from a visit in Jolo and Cotabato City to look into the attacks happening in the area.

He explained that he went there to issue a warning to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to stop its attacks since this only puts civilians at a disadvantage.

“I just gave a warning and I mean it because next time around I do not think that I will be in a position to withdraw… basta pumunta ako ng (I went to) Cotabato,” Duterte said.

Ang problema doon ang (The problem there is the) BIFF and others they continue to plunder, look for trouble and inflict violence upon the poor," he also said.

Magkagiyera, the sum of it all, sino ang pinaka kawawa?" the President added. "Ang civilian, ang mga anak natin pati ang mga babae at matatanda. And even those who do not want war and only want to live in peace.”

[Translation: In the event of a war, the sum of it all, who will suffer? The civilians, our children, as well as women and the elderly.]

In a speech before officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao this week, Duterte asked for help to control rebels in the region to avoid an “all-out offensive.”

This came after an armed encounter between government forces and BIFF members who stormed a public market in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao on May 8. The clash forced many residents to evacuate the area.

On May 13, regional authorities reported that another clash with the militant group occurred that led to the death of four BIFF gunmen.

Since then, the group has suffered four deaths, while two were arrested through the authorities’ intensified manhunt activities.