Rodrigo Duterte vows to eat Abu Sayyaf militants after beheadings of two Vietnamese sailors

The 72-year-old leader ordered a military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and other militants in the southern Philippines last year.

Duterte tells European lawmakers:
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines March 13, 2017. Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has again threatened to eat the Islamist militants alive after the abduction and beheadings of two Vietnamese sailors in a furious reaction to the killings.

On Wednesday, the Philippine troops recovered the remains of the two hostages, who were kidnapped along with four other crew members of a Vietnamese cargo ship in November last year, from the southern region of Mindanao.

The military has blamed the killings on the Abu Sayyaf group. It has a stronghold in the area and is known to behead its hostages unless ransom payments are made.

"I will eat your liver if you want me to. Give me salt and vinegar and I will eat it in front of you," Duterte said in a speech before local officials late on Wednesday. "I eat everything. I am not picky. I eat even what cannot be swallowed," he added.

Duterte held up a mobile phone with a photo of the slain Vietnamese sailors and cursed the militants angrily. "Will we allow ourselves to be enslaved by these people? Son of a w****."

The 72-year-old leader ordered a military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and other militants in the southern Philippines last year.

The Abu Sayyaf group, linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, originally a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, has splintered into factions, with some continuing to engage in banditry and kidnappings.

A faction of it has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, and joined militants battling security forces since late May in Marawi, the largely Catholic nation's most important Islamic city.

The militants continue to occupy parts of the southern city despite a United States-backed military offensive there that has claimed more than 460 lives and displaced nearly 400,000 people.

While talking about Islamist militants, Duterte has often been seen to use extreme language. Last year, the leader said that he would eat Abu Sayyaf militants alive in a bloodthirsty vow of revenge following a bombing in Davao, his southern home city that claimed 15 lives.

Duterte said that Vietnam had raised concern about a series of high-seas kidnappings blamed on the Abu Sayyaf when he visited Hanoi last year.

Vietnam's foreign ministry has condemned the killing of the two sailors on Wednesday as it called for heavy punishment. According to the Philippine military, one of the six crewmen was rescued last month and three remain in captivity.

According to reports, the Abu Sayyaf militants are holding a total of 22 hostages, including eight other Vietnamese.