MANILA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Monday the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements.
Duterte, in his first State of the Nation Address, said the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to search and engage these rogue and lawless groups will be enhanced.
"Since our country continues to be confronted with internal security threats aggravated by the existence and activities of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the full force of the AFP will be applied to crush these criminals who operate under the guise of religious fervor," he said.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits have engaged in kidnappings and beheadings of some of their hostages who failed to pay ransom they have demanded.
The latest kidnapped victims were five Malaysian sailors who were abducted last week between southern waters of Tawi-Tawi and Sabah.
The president said his administration has strengthened coordination with Indonesia and Malaysia to suppress kidnappings in their waters.
To boost the government's counter-terrorism programs, he urged Congress to amend various laws on terrorism, terrorism financing and cybercrime.
"This is our answer to the challenges of the global development's non-traditional threats, transnational crimes and fanatical terrorism," Duterte said.