Thousands flee homes in south amid talk of new offensive against Abu Sayyaf.
“The Muslims of the Philippines want autonomy and equal rights – democracy has failed them so they have taken up arms”
Shafiq, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The president’s comments come as the military is stepping up its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf on two southern islands where around 55 troops and dozens of fighters have been killed since July.
Arroyo said the armed forces “must evolve a strategy of rapid conclusion to address rebellion”.
She said the government would use “hard and soft power,” a combination of military strength and efforts to win over rebels through economic development, social services and infrastructure.