Military installations will be permanent fixtures in Marawi City to fend off attacks by Islamist militants like what they did three years ago, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said during a meeting called to address issues confronting rehabilitation efforts in the city.
Among those who joined President Duterte in the meeting in Malacanang Wednesday night were legislators, heads of national government agencies involved in the Marawi rehabilitation, local government officials and leaders of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi City.
The President convened the meeting after Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and other legislators conducted a public hearing in Marawi City in late February. The senator assured affected Marawi City residents to raise their concerns to the President.
During the meeting, the President appealed to the people of Marawi to support the deployment of soldiers in the city stressing the members of the armed forces will not be there to fight Maranaos but to combat the terrorists.
“I’m not after the Maranao, ang akin d’yan is the military should be there to avoid a repeat of… ‘yang military hindi ‘yang Maranao ang hinahanap n’yan, the terrorists that terrorize everybody,” he said.
“Now, if you are bothered by my explanation to you, just look at what happened to the Middle East.”
The President said it is very important that the government must have control, noting the presence of soldiers is not intended to control people’s lives but to fend off extremists that threaten order.
At the same time, the Islamic extremists are not the sole threat, he said, adding communist rebels also pose a threat to the country’s security.
“It’s the age of terrorism so we will just have to do something about it. Come up with something that can mitigate. Anyway, pagka-peaceful na, then it’s about time na the military will go out. My decision to build a military camp there will remain.”
But the government must also consider the local community’s sensitivities, its religion and culture, he noted, insisting however that there must be law and order.
To allay public fears, President Duterte said he would favor Muslim members of the armed forces to be deployed in Marawi City.
Under the security component of the Marawi City rehabilitation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducts military operations against the remaining members of the ISIS-Maute group. PND