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Stay cool. Stay alive, Duterte tells troops in Marawi

/ 07:08 AM August 06, 2017

IN HIS ELEMENT President Duterte (center) gamely poses for “groufies” with soldiers during his second visit to Marawi on Friday. —MALACAÑANG PHOTO

“Stay alive and fight cool … Do not go into [battle] in a rage [lest] you put yourself in trouble,” President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday cautioned soldiers on his second visit to Marawi to buoy  their morale.

Mr. Duterte also promised to reward soldiers who proved themselves exceptional in the more than two months’ gunfight with extremist groups that have aligned themselves with the Islamic State.

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“Let’s not rush.  Anyway, [the fighting] is in the homestretch,” the President said, quoting a briefer that described the Marawi conflict as “winding [down] and entering its critical stage.”

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“Remember, this is a war, and you’re fighting bullets,” Mr. Duterte said.

“You will have so many surprises coming your way. I hope that [you] stay alive, fight cool and not be in a hurry. Do not go into a rage because if you’re angry, you will put yourself in trouble,” the President told soldiers in Barangay Kilala in Marawi.

“I hope that there would be less heartaches and you’d be able to clean up Marawi [and] get rid of the terrorists. I hope nobody would meet tragedy,” Mr. Duterte said.

“If you all have to sacrifice yourselves, do it. We will really finish this. And we will go into a very strict regimen,” he added.

Rewards await brave fighters, Mr. Duterte said, from guns to trips abroad.

“The valor [awardees], these tough ones [will get trips abroad]. Maybe Hong Kong; it will be free. If you want, bring a partner or spouse,” the President said.

“If you don’t want to, tell us which actress you want and we’ll make a request,” he added in jest.

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President Duterte also reiterated his promise to set up a P50 billion trust fund for the education of the soldiers’ children.

Since he had already signed the free college tuition bill into law, he said the trust fund could be used for those who want to pursue further studies, as in medicine or law.

In the same speech, Mr. Duterte again talked about the illegal drug problem that, he said, was one of the root causes of the Marawi conflict, and lashed out anew at his predecessor,  Benigno Aquino III.

Mr. Duterte had earlier called the former President a “fool” for questioning the effectiveness of his antidrug campaign.

“That hurt,” Mr. Duterte said, referring to Aquino’s comment on Tuesday, when the former President said that “it seems, nothing has changed” on the illegal drugs front.

The former Chief Executive told reporters that during his term in 2015, statistics showed that there were 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines.   At the end of 2016, Mr. Aquino said the number of drug users in the country remained at 1.8 million.

“That’s insulting. Many of my soldiers died and my police were wounded,” Mr. Duterte said.

“So if you’re careless and say that ‘nothing happened,’ I’d really lose my cool. So don’t just comment on this because you don’t know the real score,” he added.

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TAGS: Marawi siege, Mindanao martial law, Rodrigo Duterte
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