If you think Luigi Brugnaro, the Mayor of Venice, is a badass for telling Italian police to shoot anyone shouting “Allahu Akhbar”, chances are you haven’t met Duterte. Philippine President Rodrigo “Rody” Roa Duterte, who’s also known as the “Dirty Harry” of the east, is notorious for his mission against drug dealers, of whom more than 7,000 have been killed, and counting.
On July 5, 2016, he shocked the nation – and the world – when he named and shamed 5 police generals allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade. Thereafter, he takes pride of killing hundreds of suspected drug dealers. In fact, he was rather offended after being asked whether he has killed hundreds – he had actually killed more than 1,700 (August 2016) – not hundreds.
But drug dealers are not the only people the Filipino president loves to kill. His second favourite enemy is terrorist, or rather the 3 magic words – radicalized Islamic terrorists. Duterte’s insanity raised eyebrows at ASEAN Summit in Laos last year when he declared he would eat Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants as if they were sushi – raw and alive!
Mr. Duterte was recorded in his speech back then, saying – “They will pay. When the time comes, I will eat you in front of people, if you make me mad, in all honesty, I will eat you alive, raw. I will really carve your torso open. Give me vinegar and salt and I will eat you. I’m not kidding. These guys are beyond redemption.”
Frustrated and angered with terrorists in his own backyard, President Duterte, who is also known as “The Punisher” among the Filipinos, has just announced that he won’t stop the Philippine military from bombing mosques, which are used by terrorists as some sort of “sanctuary” place due to the perception that non-Muslims dare not attack Muslims’ place of worship.
As the Marawi siege enters its 100th day, Duterte said he has given the military a free hand to decide on whether or not to bomb mosques where Mautes terrorists were holed up – even if there were hostages still inside. Also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, the Maute group is a radical Islamist group composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and ISIS fighters.
However, Duterte admitted it was hard for him to come to the decision since bombing mosques could generate more hatred between Christians and Muslims. The plan to bomb terrorists’ hiding places, and in so doing “sacrifice”the hostages, had been suggested by the military weeks before but Duterte instructed them to “wait it out.”
Hiding behind the place of worship, the radicalized Islamic terrorists have been using mosques as sniper lairs, taking advantage of Duterte’s initial instruction not to attack the mosques of the Islamic City of Marawi. But the Filipino president’s patience is running out as the war against terrorism could drag for years if the government doesn’t impose a deadline to end the siege.
Marawi is the Philippines’ only official Islamic city. The Maute Group and its partner-in-crime Abu Sayyaf (local Islamic State affiliates), attacked the city in May this year, taking hostages, killing civilians, and even selling many as sex slaves. In announcing the tactical change, Duterte revealed that he had sent negotiators to speak to the Maute terrorists in the hopes of forcing them to release their hostages.
On Tuesday, the Philippines Armed Forces have confirmed the liberation of the Grand Mosque – where hostages were previously kept – and the Saint Mary’s Parish, where a Catholic priest was taken hostage when the clashes erupted on May 23. They have also recovered Mapandi Bridge and the Safrullah M. Dipatuan (SMD) General Hospital or Safrullah Hospital.
General Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters that the military has planned “one big battle” to take back the remaining corner of the city currently in Islamic State hands. It is estimated that 40 ISIS terrorists, including the Maute brothers that lend that group its name or Abu Sayyaf chief Isnilon Hapilon, remain in Marawi.
Duterte, however, warned that even with the Marawi battle over, the Islamic militants could still launch attacks elsewhere in the Philippines especially the southern regions of the country which have long been troubled and terrorized by armed Muslim bands including separatist guerrillas and outlaws, some of whom are aligned to ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State).
Obviously, the radicalized Islamic terrorists have messed with the wrong president. Unlike previous Philippine presidents, Mr. Duterte does not play political-correct games with drug dealers, terrorists or even U.S. presidents who put top priority on human rights and religious tolerance. He kills to get problem solved and there’s nothing the world could do about it.
In fact, Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed former death squad member, revealed that he killed frequently on then-Davao Mayor Duterte’s orders, and fed human remains to crocodiles at the now-president’s behest. There was also an unproven allegation that Rodrigo Duterte once ordered the bombing of a mosque in retaliation for an attack on Davao Cathedral in 1993.