Duterte: Marawi war dragged on to spare OFWs from backlash in Muslim nations
CITY OF MALOLOS—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the military campaign to retake Marawi City from terrorists dragged on for weeks because he ordered the military to spare mosques and other Islamic shrines and prevent a backlash against millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Arabic countries.
The military campaign could have started with the bombing of terrorist outposts, some inside mosques, but “I wouldn’t allow it,” Duterte said.
He told the OFWs that he finally allowed the military to proceed, but not before he informed world leaders about the siege.
“I telephoned the world leaders and asked them: ‘kindly understand my situation. Do not take (the full-blown attacks against the Maute Group hidden in mosques) against us… It is ISIS spreading the gospel of violence and destruction,’” he said during the 84th founding anniversary program of the Department of Labor and Employment at the Bulacan capitol gymnasium.
He said: “My people were dying… Moro, Christians, lumad, so please understand… They’ve been calling me, too. They asked me to do something to save lives. ‘Yes, of course,’ I told them.”
Growing up poor, Duterte said he understood how life works for OFWs. He said his administration would exert all efforts to improve the economy, adding that the laggard in industry remains agriculture because food producers need to be augmented with their own manufacturing sector.
“I’ve been accused of everything—from being a murderer, a fascist whatever… (But) if there’s one thing you (can be certain of is) I have the love for my country,” he said.
He said he could only promise the OFWs that he would make Filipino lives “more comfortable.”
Before he spoke, Duterte performed in an impromptu duet with local singer, Jonalyn Viray.
During the program, DOLE awarded P20 million worth of livelihood projects to more than 1,000 residents in Hermosa town and Balanga City in Bataan province; Baler town in Aurora province, and the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. /jpv
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