PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte told Islamic State militants that he would not consider their human rights amid concerns that the extremist group would attempt to gain footing in his country after being driven out of Syria and Iraq.
Pointing out the situation in the southern Mindanao province, which is a hotbed for militancy and bandit groups, Duterte warned of “looming terrorism” and the rise in extremist influence in the region which threatens national security, Reuters reported.
“Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep … they will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that,” he was quoted as saying during a speech at a law enforcement agency.
“Remember, these guys, they do not have an iota of what is human rights, believe me. I will not just simply allow my people to be slaughtered for the sake of human rights, that’s bullshit.”
Duterte has often been criticised by governments, international organisations and rights groups for alleged human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in his bloody war on drugs.
The former Davao city mayor said the kidnap-for-ransom activities of the Abu Sayyaf terror group which have continued unabated for many years show there is a “very strong” Islamist rebellion in the region.
According to Reuters, the Abu Sayyaf group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, are currently holding 21 hostages, mostly foreigners. The militants have continued to seize captives despite the major offensive launched by the Philippine military to wipe them out.
Operating in the Jolo and Basilan Islands southwest of the Philippines, members of the Abu Sayyaf group are notoriously known for seizing foreigners to demand millions of pesos to secure their release. Botched attempts to gain ransom often lead to the beheading of the captives.
Last week, Duterte agreed to allow the Malaysian and Indonesian maritime security forces to enter Philippine waters to chase groups that abduct hostages in the bordering region.
In a move to address the southern unrest and the war on drugs, Duterte on Friday threatened to use his executive power by suspending habeas corpus, allowing authorities to conduct arrests and detention without the need for a warrant.
With the suspension, authorities can detain suspects for up to 60 days “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it”, as provided in the Constitution. It would also allow authorities to arrest and detain a suspect for three days without filing a charge.
On Monday, Duterte’s office released a statement saying the president had issued a stern warning that he would take more drastic action towards perpetrators of violent acts.