Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has recently made the shocking revelation that some of his family members could be associated with local militant groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State (Isis).
However, the firebrand leader, who is running an aggressive drug war, vowed to take action against them if they ever happened to meet.
Duterte has already launched a military operation to eliminate Abu Sayyaf, an IS (Daesh)-linked Islamist militant group based in the country that is known for abductions for ransom and brutal killings of hostages.
In an exclusive interview with Rappler's executive editor Maria Ressa, the president said: "To be frank, I have cousins on the other side, with MI and MN. Some, I heard, are with Isis," referring to Filipino militant groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.
He reportedly said sorry in advance should he encounter those cousins in the future and added: "You are you and I am I, and I said, if we meet in one corner, so be it."
The president attributed the recent bomb blasts in the country to the IS. "The Isis seems to be everywhere," Duterte said, noting that the Syria and Iraq-based jihadists were behind the recent Christmas Eve bombing in Midsayap in the province of Cotabato, as well as the blast that rocked a night market in Davao city — his hometown — in September.
The president declined to divulge any more information on the two incidents saying he was "not ready" to share more. He, however, added that he has discussed the IS threat with other world leaders and also with his own officials.
"I hope it will not get out of control. I had conference with top guys of the government, military. I saw them with the police. You have to not only appear strong, you have to be strong because this is another problem, it's no joke," Duterte said in the interview.