Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said there should not be an all-out against Muslim rebels in wake of the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The SAF commandos perished during a gun battle with elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) during a police operation against a Malaysian terrorist.
Duterte lauded the slain SAF commandos as heroes who sacrificed their lives following the orders of their commanders.
But Duterte also said the perpetrators of the massacre and officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who planned the failed operation must be brought to justice.
“I condemn the brutality and savagery of the killing and I grieve over the senseless loss of lives of young policemen who sacrificed their lives performing their duty,” he said.
“Justice must be served,” he
“Emotions are high and the nation is grieving but the call for an all-out war will exacerbate the situation. We do not want this problem to explode into something we cannot handle later on,” Duterte said.
The SAF policemen, reportedly numbering over 300, were to serve a warrant of arrest on international terrorist of Malaysian nationality, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was reportedly hiding in an area controlled by the BIFF.
Philippine government and Muslim rebel negotiators have issued a joint plea for the country to stick to a historic peace accord that is now in peril after a deadly clash spurred calls for retribution against the guerrillas.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has waged a decades-long bloody insurgency in the Muslim southern Philippines, but an accord signed last year has raised hopes of a lasting peace.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), now being deliberated on in Congress, is in danger of being mothballed after the massacre by Muslim rebels of 44 members of the Philippine Police Special Action Force (SAF) in Maguindanao.