Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raised his shock rhetoric to new levels when he warned terrorists that he can be 50 times more brutal than them, saying he’d even eat them if they’re captured alive by troops.
Duterte has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death, but he raised his rhetoric to a new heights Sunday when he said in a speech during the opening of a national sports tournament what he could do to terrorists who have staged beheadings and other gruesome attacks.
Duterte ordered troops to kill fleeing militants behind a foiled attack in the central resort province of Bohol, calling the extremists “animals.”
He said he can “go down what you can 50 times over … just give me vinegar and salt, I’ll eat his liver.”
After a massive manhunt, Philippine forces killed at least four suspected militants Saturday in a central resort province where troops had foiled possible kidnapping and bombing plots by extremists earlier this month, officials said.
Army troops and police killed ringleader Joselito Melloria in a gun battle with about seven militants near Clarin town in Bohol province. Melloria’s companions fled and three of them were later killed by troops, military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said.
“They dared to go to an unfamiliar area and they couldn’t find any support from villagers in Bohol,” Ano said, adding that troops were continuing to hunt down the remaining militants.
Melloria had guided Abu Sayyaf militants from their jungle encampments in the country’s south to his Bohol village to carry out possible ransom kidnappings and bombings. Troops, however, detected the militants and killed four of them in April 11 fighting that also left three soldiers, a policeman and two villagers dead.
Melloria fled with at least seven other militants. Duterte offered a 1 million peso ($20,000) reward for information leading to their capture.
A military profile of Melloria, who uses the militant nom de guerre Abu Alih, said that in 2015 he joined Maute, a small nascent group based in the south that has pledged allegiance to the ISIS group. He later assimilated with another ISIS-linked group, Ansar Khilafa Philippines, and Abu Sayyaf, the military report said.
Philippine security officials say, had the Bohol plots been successful, Melloria would have been designated to lead Ansar Khilafa Philippines.
The fighting and foiled terror plots in Bohol have prompted Western countries to caution citizens from traveling to the central region.
The United States and the Philippines list Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization because its bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.