Rodrigo Duterte has set his sights firmly on Abu Sayyaf after the jihadist group beheaded an 18-year-old hostage. In response, the president has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to eliminate the terrorist organisation.
After he was made aware of the killing of Patrick Almodovar, Duterte said: "That's why I'm sending the troops there and tell[ing] them to destroy them." He added: "My orders to the police and to the armed forces against all enemies of the state, seek them out in their lairs, whatever, and destroy them."
Almodovar is reportedly the third kidnap victim to have been beheaded this year by the violent jihadist group, whose name means "bearer of the sword." Abu Sayyaf is known for attacking civilians and the army and for taking hostages for a ransom. Earlier this year, the group executed Canadians John Risdell and Robert Hall.
According to Rappler, Duterte sought to ethnically distance himself from Abu Sayyaf. "That's where I lost my belief in you. I have this little connection by blood with you but you know I've lost my belief in you," Rappler quoted Duterte as saying.
He explained that most Abu Sayyaf militants can be traced to the Tausug lineage. "Although I'm not a Tausug, more on the Maranao side, but I no longer believe in you," Duterte added.
In June, at least three Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed and another 10 injured after clashing with government forces in Sulu, southern Philippines. Speaking after the incident that left 16 soldiers wounded, Duterte vowed to dismantle the extremist organisation.
"I cannot do it just immediately," the Filippino president said in Davao City. "But there will be a time, there will be a reckoning. And when it comes, I will just say 'Surrender unconditionally. Release all prisoners, hostages or we fight'."
Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have around 400 members. Several of its factions have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (Isis).