Duterte lauds US help vs mil­i­tants in Marawi

Tempo - - Comics - (AFP and Ar­gyll Cyrus B. Ge­ducos)

Pres­i­dent Duterte, a fierce critic of the United States, is now singing Wash­ing­ton’s praises for help­ing him fight pro-Is­lamic State group mil­i­tants.

“There are so many factors in­volved. But I’d rather be friendly to them now,” Duterte told res­i­dents of Balangiga, Eastern Sa­mar dur­ing a visit Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial tran­script re­leased Fri­day.

Is­lamic mil­i­tants wav­ing the black IS flag oc­cu­pied the Marawi City on May 23, and have fought off a US-backed mil­i­tary as­sault for more than four months.

The US de­ployed a P-3 Orion spy plane and pro­vided other in­tel­li­gence in­puts to the mil­i­tary and po­lice try­ing to re­take the city in fight­ing which has left more than 900 peo­ple dead.

“I would not say that they were our sav­iors, but they are our al­lies and they helped us. And even to­day, they have pro­vided the cru­cial equip­ment to our sol­diers in Marawi to fight the ter­ror­ists,” Duterte said.

“So with­out their help also, we would be hav­ing a hard time,” he said. “So we thank you.”

Mean­while, Duterte has or­dered the search for the de­scen­dants of the Balangiga tribes­men who fought the Amer­i­cans in 1901 in recog­ni­tion of their hero­ism 116 years ago.

Duterte re­newed his call for the re­turn of the Balangiga bells, relics which the Amer­i­can sol­diers took as war booty af­ter be­ing am­bushed by the tribes­men dur­ing the early 20th cen­tury.

Ac­cord­ing to Duterte, he is will­ing to con­fer the Or­der of Lapu-Lapu medals on each fam­i­lies who are de­scen­dants of the tribes­men if search­ing for them is still pos­si­ble.

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