Duterte sees end of Marawi war this month

Tempo - - Front Page - (Ge­na­lyn D. Ka­bil­ing)

Af­ter four months of fight­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and Is­lamic State-linked rebels in Marawi City, Pres­i­dent Duterte is hope­ful that the con­flict would be over at the end of the month.

“To­day, we are still fight­ing but I hope that by the end of the month (Sept. 30), we’d be able to re­solve the is­sue,” the Pres­i­dent said about the Marawi sit­u­a­tion dur­ing his visit to Balangiga, Eastern Sa­mar last Thurs­day.

“As I have said, we are all Filipinos and if by the grace of God, we’re able to fin­ish ev­ery­thing, the busi­ness of stop­ping the re­bel­lion, not nec­es­sar­ily killing, we will be happy,” said Duterte who has placed Min­danao un­der mar­tial law to quell the re­bel­lion.

The Pres­i­dent said he has vis­ited Marawi five times and in­tends to make an­other trip to the war zone. “I’m go­ing back there, al­most on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, un­til such time that peace is at­tained,” he said.

Once gov­ern­ment troops have cleared Marawi of the rebel threat, the Pres­i­dent in­sisted that there was no need to hold a vic­tory cel­e­bra­tion. He said the sol­diers would just pack up and qui­etly leave the area.

“My or­ders to the mil­i­tary is that kung man­alo man tayo, we do not cel­e­brate any vic­tory in Min­danao sim­ply be­cause we are wag­ing a war ac­tu­ally against our own peo­ple and it would not look good, es­pe­cially peo­ple who have adopted other re­li­gions,” he said.

“So I said na, “Kung man­alo tayo, mat­a­pos na you just pack up your things and go silently out of the place,” he added.

The mil­i­tary en­gi­neer­ing brigade, how­ever, will re­main “to help re­build your city,” ac­cord­ing to the Pres­i­dent.

The Pres­i­dent said he takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Marawi op­er­a­tions “be­cause I de­clared the mar­tial law and I sent my sol­diers and po­lice there to die.”

He ad­mit­ted that he could have been im­peached from of­fice he did not ad­dress the re­bel­lion in the area.

“That is why every­day when I read the briefers, it re­ally breaks my heart. Pero wala akong ma­g­awa. I could have been im­peached kung wala akong gi­nawa about the sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

Duterte ad­mit­ted the gov­ern­ment was sur­prised by the huge stock­pile of weapons and am­mu­ni­tion of the Maute ter­ror group in Marawi.

“We knew that they were stack­ing arms. We knew that they were arms go­ing around and pass­ing around. But we never re­al­ized the ex­tent of their ord­nance and bombs, ex­plo­sives, and guns and am­mu­ni­tion,” he said.

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