Duterte sees Marawi crisis ending by the end of the month
Four months after the siege erupted in Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte said government troops would be able to retake Marawi City by the end of the month.
“Today, we are still fighting but I hope that by the end of the month, we’d be able to resolve the issue,” Duterte said in a speech during the 116th commemoration of the Balangiga Encounter Day in Eastern Samar on Thursday.
In June, Duterte said the Marawi siege would be over “in a matter of days” but the military has since repeatedly adjusted the deadline to retake the besieged city.
The President admitted that the siege staged by the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists was well-planned and the government underestimated their armed capability.
“We knew that they were stacking arms. We knew that they were going around and passing around (arms). But we never realized the extent of their ordnance and bombs, explosives and guns and ammunition,” he said.
“Actually, it is the SAF, the Special Action Force, which were organized to meet urban terrorism. Nabigla lang talaga tayo doon (We were just surprised),” he added.
Despite the President’s optimism that the siege would end in few days, he reiterated that there would be no need to celebrate.
“And my orders to the military is that kung manalo man tayo (if we win), 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 (If we win and it is over), you just pack up your things and go silently out of the place,” he added.
He assured the Maranaos that he would rebuild Marawi once the fighting was over.
“Sinabi ko naman sa mga Maranao, mga Moro doon na (I told the Maranao, the Moro there that) I will leave some of the soldiers of the Engineering Brigade to help rebuild your city. And we will do that. At sinabi ko (and I told them), ‘We will rebuild Marawi,’” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives that the siege would be over this month.
“It could be over at the end of this month. That’s what the people on the ground told me,” Lorenzana said.
It was not the first time the defense secretary had set time frame for the resolution of the Marawi siege. But previous target dates were revised until the government gave up trying to set a date.
The Marawi siege erupted in May 23, prompting Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao after the Maute terrorists attacked the city in a bid to establish a caliphate there. Duterte has since extended the declaration of martial law until the end of the year with Congress’ approval. /idl
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