President Duterte on Marawi siege: “We will not lose this war”

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday expressed confidence that the Philippine government will emerge victorious in the ongoing siege in Marawi City.

President Duterte issued the statement during his visit to the 4th Infantry Division of the Army at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City, where he honored the wounded soldiers who have fought in the beleaguered city.

“Sa gobyerno tayo, hindi tayo matalo. Not in a million years na matumba tayo,” Duterte said in his speech pledging full support for the military in crushing the extremist groups who have been wreaking havoc in Lanao del Sur.

The President stressed that it is “impossible” for the military to lose in Marawi citing the bravery and determination of the Armed Forces in fighting the local terrorist groups.

As a reward for their gallantry, the President promised to give them .45 caliber pistols, which he said they could use when they return to the battlefield.

“Pagbalik ninyo, doblado na ang gamit, ubos ang kalaban. Kaya natin ‘to,” he said.

The Chief Executive personally pinned the Wounded Personnel Medal on each of the 84 soldiers who were brought to Camp Evangelista station hospital for treatment.

He likewise gave financial assistance to the wounded soldiers and reiterated his plan to set up a PHP50-billion trust fund for the education of their children.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the wounded soldiers, President Duterte explained that he had to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao in order to easily contain the situation in Marawi and avoid a spillover of hostilities in other parts of the country.

“Ang problema nito ‘yung spillover. That is why we have to declare martial law in entire island of Mindanao because they can run everywhere and anywhere, and they can always find sanctuary and solace kasi distributed tayong lahat,” he said.

He insisted that the siege was not fueled by religion but by illegal drugs trade.

“I have ordered the military and the police to strike hard against the drug people kasi kasama na sila sa rebellion. Ang rebellion was financed by drug money,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with religion. I refused to believe that it is religion that fueled this war. It never has been and it is not now,” he added.

The President lamented that putting Mindanao under martial law was “not a good thing” adding that waging war against his own people pained him.

“I do not want to fight. I simply cannot wage a war against my own people. I pray that there will be a short period of war activity and we expect it to be over soon,” he said.

He also committed to help the Maranao to get back on their feet especially the underprivileged ones who have lost their homes and livelihood.