Manila – Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday urged people not to provide harbouring place to fleeing members of the Abu Sayyaf group and other terrorists.
“We earnestly ask you to cooperate with your Armed Forces to avoid any untoward incident or injury,’’ said Lorenzana in a statement, adding that the offensive against these groups are now in “full swing’’.
“Do not help the terrorists, if they run to your house, do not let them in, do not coddle them or hide them.
“If they are your relatives or friends and you want to save them, convince them to return to the government fold when there is still time,’’ said Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said the fight against terrorism was not just the fight of the armed forces alone.
He said that the military needed the support of everyone to win peace.
Earlier this month, government forces have renewed operations against the Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic State, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and even the Ansar Khalifa Philippines in various parts of Mindanao Island.
Earlier, F-50 fighter jets conducted surgical airstrikes while artillery assets bombarded lairs of the Islamic State in Butig in the province of Lanao del Norte.
The military said that 15 terrorists, including an Indonesian, were killed in the operation.
Seven others were injured, including Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is said to be establishing a caliphate of the Islamic State in Central Mindanao, the military said.
The Abu Sayyaf is holding around 20 foreign and Filipino hostages in Sulu.
Lorenzana said that the military would be giving importance to the safety of the hostages in the campaign.