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ASG still accountable

A Malacañang official emphasized yesterday that President Duterte does not condone the criminal activities of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the ASG is still accountable under the law for their kidnapping, beheading, and other criminal activities.

Abella made the statement after the President said in his speech during the Mindanao Hariraya Eid’l Fit’r 2016 in Davao City Friday that he did not consider the ASG as a band of criminals.

“I am not including Abu Sayyaf dito sa criminality, you’ve never heard me say ‘mga kriminal’,” Duterte said, as he explained that “these are the guys were driven to desperation.”

According to Duterte, “there was no sufficient semblance of governance (in the region) and that is why they are pushed to the wall, then they became radicalized.”

Abella, when asked how the President’s statement would affect the pursuit of justice for those kidnapped and beheaded by ASG, made it clear that: “Hindi po niya (president) pinapalampas ‘yung mga ginawa nila.”

He explained that the President was only trying to explain the context for the ASG’s actions. “Basically, he was saying that these are people who already have become desperate. In other words, he (Duterte) understands what they are doing, but they still have to answer for their actions,” Abella said.

“I believe that was the context of the (President’s) statement. . . hindi lang sila basta crime in the sense of just ordinary bandits, may pinanggagalingan, meron silang motive, kaya lang po they still have to be answerable for the actions,” he added. (Elena L. Aben)