Updated: August 26, 2016 06:24 AM GMT
Government soldiers conduct regular patrols to prevent Abu Sayyaf attacks in Sulu province. (Photo by Vincent Go)
A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines is backing a military campaign against Abu Sayyaf militants, who claim to have links with the group calling itself Islamic State.
"The Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist group and it is not for dialogue," said Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Prelature of Isabela in Basilan province.
"They must be destroyed," said the prelate, adding that it is time that the terror group is "dismantled and apprehended."
Bishop Jumoad made the statement following the beheading on Aug. 24 of a teenage boy in the town of Indanan in the nearby province of Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf beheaded the kidnap victim after his family failed to pay a one-million peso (US$21,500) ransom. The terrorist group continues to hold at least 20 hostages, including nine Indonesian sailors, in Sulu.
In response, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to crush the Abu Sayyaf during his term, ordered the deployment of more troops in the terror group's stronghold provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
"My heart bleeds upon learning of the beheading of the 18-year old boy. The government must stop and destroy this group," Bishop Jumoad said.
Bishop Jumoad said he hopes Duterte will be successful in destroying the Abu Sayyaf.
"Since 1990 until now, the government has not eliminated the Abu Sayyaf," said the prelate.
"The bandits are just laughing at the order of the president. I hope the order of President Duterte will be executed by the military," he said.
The United Nations Security Council has blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf for having ties to al-Qaeda.
The Philippine military estimates the Abu Sayyaf group has about 300 to 400 men, mostly in Basilan and Sulu provinces in Mindanao.