Duterte visits 4th ID command post afters 5 days away from public view
BUTUAN CITY – “I love you all,” a more subdued President Rodrigo Duterte told soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division command post in Barangay Bangkasi here on Saturday, five days after his last public appearance.
“I am filled with nice feeling, I love you all. Mahal ko kayong lahat. Nasasaktan ako pag may nadigrasya,” the President said near the end of his speech.
The President made his visit here as fighting between government troops and Islamic State-inspired militants entered its 24th day.
Duterte denied allegations that the fighting erupted because there was failure on the part of the government.
But he did say that the government’s had a “very soft policy towards rebels.” Because of these officials did not realize that the militants were already stockpiling firearms and ammunition in Marawi City.
“It turns out that these Maute were bringing the firearms surreptitiously,” he said, adding that government did not know the volume of firearms that was smuggled into Marawi.
“And besides, it was not a failure of intelligence because if we see people with firearms, they claim to be members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front,” he said. “All the whle, the Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, the warlords, were stockpiling.”
This, he said, was the reason the militants had not run out of ammunition.
“When government fires one, they fire back with five,” he said. “So it was like they have endless supply when Maute rose to fight the government.”
He said the militants were just waiting for the right time to attack. And when fighting erupted, he said, “the Indonesian forces went down from the hills.”
He said the militants fighting in Marawi was a “conglomoration of Isis from Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Arabs (actually, Kuwaitis).”
But the President said the fighting was “winding up but at the cost of many soldiers.”
And because government has already lost more than 50 soldiers in the fighting, Duterte said they would have to “finish” the militants by nipping them in the bud.
Duterte also assured the soldiers that government would provide everything they need.
“I am with you in everything,” he said, adding that the soldiers’ needs will be a “priority.”
“I will not abandon you,” he said, even promising to raise a P50-billion trust fund for education of the children of troopers.
But he has one request to those in the battlefield: “Just be a clever soldier, use all your instincts to survive.”
“I know what’s always in your mind – your family,” he said.
All throughout his speech, the President did not utter a single cuss word.
But it was a different Duterte earlier that day in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. There he was his usual self, throwing jokes at the crowd who were celebrating the town’s 50th foundation day.
In Cabadbaran, Duterte also talked about the fighting in Marawi and the government fight against illegal drugs.
He even called on stage the wife of a former classmate when he was in kindergarten in the town of Candelaria. /atm