Terrorists warned

Duterte says he’s trying to avoid war with Maute group
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte warned members of the Maute terror group against forcing him to declare an all-out war against them.

Mr. Duterte made the statement in an ambush interview at the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital Wednesday afternoon.

President Duterte was scheduled to meet with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding the condition of the injured members of the Presidential Security Group, who were by bomb shrapnel on Tuesday morning while they were heading to Marawi City.

“I said I do not want to make war against Filipinos,” Mr. Duterte said. “But I told them that they have to stop … So I am doing everything to prevent war.”

However, Duterte said the Maute group should not bait the government into escalating the offensives.

“I said do not force my hand into it,” he said.

At least seven PSG personnel were injured in two IED attacks at Barangay Panod, Marawi City. The casualties include two soldiers who were of the team escorting a convoy comprising the President’s staff. Initial information said the PSG men were on board two KM450 and three KM250 trucks.

“Most were slightly injured except for one PSG member who sustained serious injuries,” a statement from the Presidential Communications Office said.

A source from the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that the team, along with civilian staff from the Office of the President’s Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) and the Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO), were in a convoy headed as an advanced party to an event that the President was scheduled to attend this week.

The blast occurred a day after the United States Embassy was bombed along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

The Maute Group has also been suspected of being behind the deadly Roxas night market blast here last Sept. 2.

The Presidential Communications Office said that a helicopter from the Philippine Air Force immediately airlifted the wounded personnel. The rest were stabilized on site.

“The President has consistently expressed concern for uniformed personnel who bravely walk in harm’s way so we can live in peace and freedom,” the PCO statement said.

“We assure our brave men and women who put their lives on the line for duty and country that their Commander-in-Chief will never abandon them in their time of need.”

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte condemned the attack and said it was clearly intended to send a message to President Duterte.

“The message of the attack was clear and it targeted my father and his administration. It was meant to terrorize the government and the Filipino people,” he said.

He also said that the attack was “meant to undermine Duterte’s peace efforts and his development agenda in Mindanao and the entire country.”

President Duterte was scheduled to visit Lanao del Sur on Wednesday.

“The enemies of peace and meaningful change are out on a rampage now that the Duterte administration’s peace and development efforts are rapidly gaining momentum in Mindanao and many other parts of the country. There are groups who are not happy about what’s happening now,” the presidential son said.

He urged the public to help the government in its fight against terrorism.

“We have to be at all times vigilant because there are still people and groups who are out to destablize our government and terrorize the Filipino people,” the vice mayor said.