President Duterte wishes for peace this Christmas

ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday expressed hopes that gunbattles will take a back seat this Christmas season.

Asked by reporters here for his Christmas message, President Duterte said he is hoping for a peaceful Christmas, including with the communists and even terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

“I’d like to greet everybody, lahat na, to the Filipino people, the law-abiding, and of course, if they find it in their hearts though this is not really something for the Moro but you know that this kind of events is closest to the hearts of the Christians. Na we can have a peaceful Christmas,” Duterte said in his visit to the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom).

He also urged terrorist group Abu Sayyaf to “take a vacation.”

“Nakikiusap ako sa lahat na if we can have a peaceful Christmas. Maybe we can resume fighting some other day,” President Duterte said.

“I’d like to greet everybody, the communists, the Abu Sayyaf, in behalf of the, sa taong Pilipino, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year for all,” he added.

Fresh from his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore, President Duterte took time Saturday to visit the 16 soldiers who were wounded in action (WIA) during their recent military encounters with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan and Sulu.

The soldiers were confined at the Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) here in Zamboanga City.

In the same visit, the President also gave financial assistance to the families of the three killed-in-action (KIA) soldiers.

The President talked to the wounded soldiers and the families of the slain military men, and gave them words of encouragement while extending the financial assistance and giving mobile phones.

Those wounded soldiers who were given checks worth PHP100,000 from the Presidential Social Funded (PSF) were Emar Akalul; Ssg. Elmer B. Aranges; 1Lt. Albert O. Peralta, Pfc. Gilbert B. Verrey, Cpl. Mortaza J. Allama, Pfc. Simar Salasain, Cpl. Ruel J. Tambong, Cpl. Ronald M. Ramos, Cpl. Jerome V. Gonato, Pfc. Charlie Shine O. Carinal, Pfc. Romeo G. Ansino, Pfc. Mitchwayn T. Arsenal, Ssg. Peter M. Ugsod, Pfc. Elmer F. Dela Cruz, Sgt. Julbazar T. Julhasirin, Sgt. Amilhaidar A. Tagayan, Cpl. Ramly Guzman, and Pfc. Renante S. Malen.

Meanwhile, the relatives of those who were killed in action were also provided with PHP250,000 checks. They were the late Cpl. Mushier M. Kahaluddin through his wife Panang S. Kahaluddin; Pfc. Kennedy A. Osing through his father Bonifacio P. Osing, and Pfc. Jay G. Boctot through his wife Christie Mae Boctot.

In expressing his deep concern for the country’s military men, President Duterte said, “We should take care of our soldiers. They are giving up their lives for this Republic… at saka just to ease up their pain and their suffering.”