VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte shifts policy on Abu Sayyaf yet again

SINCE winning as president, Rodrigo Duterte has both condemned and sympathized with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

At one point Duterte said he never considered the ASG as criminals. For him, the group was only “driven to desperation” because of the lack of “sufficient semblance of governance.”

But on another occasion he described them as “persons with extreme brutality” with “no redeeming factor.” (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte on a ‘not-so-all-out’ war against Abu Sayyaf)

Recently, another turnaround.


During a press conference at Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City on Nov. 25, Duterte called for an end to “killings and violence” and to “let peace come in” while his administration is tackling the conflict in Mindanao.

He added:

“Pero if you can really stop it for a while, we talk. Pati Abu Sayyaf, I’m ready to talk to them. I’m ready to open the borders.”

(Source: RTVM Press Conference – Camp Navarro General Hospital, Zamboanga City. Nov. 25, 2016. Watch 19:29 to 21:09)

He made a similar statement on Nov. 7, during the signing of the executive order creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

“If I could get a peace agreement with the communists, and hammer out something for the MN/MI (Moro National Liberation Front/Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and to all the Moro groupings and even the Abu Sayyaf. If I could just extend my hand to them in friendship, and just tell them that it is time to just really have a country which is normal and peaceful, and for our children to grow in peace, then I would have succeeded. “

(Source: RTVM – Signing of the Executive Order on the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Malacanang. Nov. 7, 2016. Watch 14:05 to 14:41)


In October, Duterte was unclear on how to deal with the Abu Sayyaf.

While discussing his development agenda for Mindanao on Oct. 29 in Cotabato City, Duterte admitted nothing can be achieved from clashes between government military and the terror group.

(Source: RTVM – Launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other Conflict Areas in Regions 9,10, 12. Oct. 29, 2016. Watch from 14:52 to 15:00).

Earlier in September, Duterte was firm on not holding any talks with the ASG.

He even said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was right when it rejected a suggestion to grant amnesty to the ASG, and added:

“The Abu Sayyaf were decapitating people like just they were just fowls and pigs and goats. And there will be no talks.”

(Source: RTVM – Oath Taking of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), Malacañang Cameramen Association (MCA), and Presidential Photojournalists Association (PPA). September 26, 2016. Watch from 26:33-26:44)

How else has he changed his mind on the matter? Watch here.