By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is considering the arming of civilians in the event the country’s security situation deteriorates due to the threat posed by the Islamic State.
The President made the proposal after expressing concern that ISIS-linked organizations might simultaneously attack places in Luzon and Visayas.
“Ang ako man lang worry (My only worry) is that they are really out, dispersed in the Visayas and maybe sa Luzon. And kung tanungin ko lang kayo [And if I may ask you] what if they do again a Marawi thing and it is done on several cities at the same time? So diyan ako kabado. Kaya mahirapan tayo [That’s my worry. We might have some difficulties],” Duterte said during his visit to Cebu City last Tuesday.
“If the situation deteriorates, then I would allow the ownership of high-powered guns kung meron kayo (if you have) but a shotgun will do to defend (yourself),” he added.
The President earlier restricted the sale of high-powered guns in the country, saying only the military and police would be allowed to buy such heavy weapons. The President’s gun control measure aims prevent the high-powered weapons from falling into enemy hand.
In his remarks last Tuesday, the President admitted that the Abu Sayyaf group and other lawless organizations have “been contaminated” and have “pledged allegiance” to the ISIS.
He added that Luzon must even need an “early warning device” amid the latest security threats.
“So ISIS na gyud na sila (So they are really ISIS now) and — Ako naman pud (On my part), I’m worried about what’s going to happen. It has happened in Marawi,” he said.
The President however remained confident that the government could beat the terrorists given its defense and security forces.
“We’ll not lose the battle nor the war but medyo… medyo magulo lang kasi itong ISIS is walang hiya. Mura gyud og mga animal [but it will chaotic because the ISIS is ruthless. They’re like animals),” he said.
“Pero do not worry, we are really far superior in number,” he said, citing the country’s capable military and police forces.
The President earlier warned that foreign terrorists were lurking in Mindanao as the Islamic State has already established a foothold in the southern region. He asked the public to brace any “ugly” situation arising from terror suspects that included Syrians, Arabs, Indonesians and Malaysians.
In April 2017, the President said he might allow residents of Bohol to take up arms against terrorists following clash between the Abu Sayyaf group and government troops in their province.