By Elena Aben
President Rodrigo Duterte has revealed his wish for Christmas: peace.
The president expressed hope that the fight against communist and Muslim rebels and even the Abu Sayyaf Group will take a back seat to allow peace to reign during the holiday season.
“I’d like to greet everybody, lahat na, to the Filipino people, the law-abiding, and of course, if they find it in their hearts though this is not really something for the Moro but you know that this kind of events is closest to the hearts of the Christians. Na we can have a peaceful Christmas,” Duterte said during his visit to the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in Zamboanga Saturday, December 17.
He also urged terrorist group Abu Sayyaf to “take a vacation.”
“I hope that… (the) Abu Sayyaf just take a vacation and if you happen to pass by Davao, let me know and I will treat you to a dinner. Totoo.
“Nakikiusap ako sa lahat na if we can have a peaceful Christmas. Maybe we can resume fighting some other day,” Duterte said.
“I’d like to greet everybody, the communists, the Abu Sayyaf, in behalf of the, sa taong Pilipino, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year for all,” Duterte further stated.
But the president changed his tone in his message to criminals, especially those engaged in the illegal drug trade.
“Sa mga shabu? Bigyan ko kayo isang platong shabu. Hindi ko na ipaso, ipakain ko. Galit ako sa criminal.”
The president pointed out that he is mad at criminals, especially those in the illicit drug trade, but not with the revolutionary groups driven by their principle.
“What we have in the Philippines is not really a rebellion. It’s the rise of the Moro nationalism. Hindi iyan ano… not simply because they want to be rebels,” he said.
Fresh from his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore, Duterte took the time on Saturday to visit the 16 soldiers wounded in action during their recent military encounters with the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu.
The president gave words of encouragement while giving checks worth P100,000 from the Presidential Social Fund and mobile phones to the wounded troops confined at the Camp Navarro General Hospital (CGNH) at Westmincom in Zamboanga City:
- SSgt. Elmer Aranges
- 1Lt. Albert Peralta
- PFC Gilbert Verrey
- Cpl. Mortaza Allama
- PFC Simar Salasain
- Cpl. Ruel Tambong
- Cpl. Ronald Ramos
- Cpl. Jerome Gonato
- PFC Charlie Shine Carinal
- PFC Romeo Ansino
- PFC Mitchwayn Arsenal
- SSgt. Peter Ugsod
- PFC Elmer dela Cruz
- Sgt. Julbazar Julhasirin
- Sgt. Amilhaidar Tagayan
- Cpl. Ramly Guzman
- PFC Renante Malen
- PFC Emar Akalul
Duterte also met with families of three soldiers killed in action and gave them P250,000 financial assistance:
- Panang Kahaluddin, wife of Cpl. Mushier Kahaluddin
- Bonifacio Osing, father of PFC Kennedy Osing
- Christie Mae Boctot, wife of PFC Jay Boctot
In expressing his deep concern for the country’s military men, Duterte said, “We should take care of our soldiers. They are giving up their lives for this Republic… at saka just to ease up their pain and their suffering.”