MARAWI CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 28, led the inauguration of a shelter project in Marawi City, reiterating his pledge to build a better city, which was destroyed by the Maute terrorists.
In his speech during the event held in Brgy. Mipaga here, the President expressed his gratitude to the members of the Armed forces and private organizations that assisted the government in providing immediate shelter to the families displaced by the conflict.
“So magpasalamat ako sa sundalo. Thank you for your sacrifice,” Duterte said.
“This would be about my 10th visit because I love to be with you. Eh ‘di kung mamatay sila, kasali na rin ako. ‘Yan ang Commander-in-Chief. Kasali ka magpakamatay ka sa sundalo mo,” he said.
The Bahay Pagasa Phase 2 Immediate Shelter and Accommodation Housing Complex inaugurated by the President was funded by donations from the Tarlac Heritage Foundation Inc., Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc., and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Other donors include the Marawi City local government, Department of National Defense, Corvill Agricom Inc., and East West Seed Company Inc.
The 60 semi-bungalow housing units will be built inside the one-hectare housing complex, equipped with water facilities, electrical supply, community center, volleyball and basketball courts, parking lot, as well as children’s playroom and learning center. Also included is the “Hardin ng Lunas” vegetable and herbal garden.
Meanwhile, the President asked forgiveness anew from the Maranaos for the destruction brought by the conflict, as he stressed that as the Commander-in-Chief, he has the duty to suppress rebellion in Marawi City.
“Masakit man sa loob at ako’y humihingi na sa inyo noon ng taos-pusong… forgiveness. Kasi alam ko na talagang aabot ito sa ganitong gulo,” Duterte said.
“Kaya naman, sinabi ko sa inyo right after the war, rehabilitation will start immediately. Kaya kita mo ‘yung mga sundalo ko, ‘yun ang nakipag-away ng mga Maute pati terorista at sila nga ‘yung nagpagod na maibalik ang mga tahanan ninyo,” he added.
The President however reminded the Maranaos to shun Islamic extremism that often lead to war, which he said, is so devastating and traumatic, especially for the children.
He said his government is willing to pour in money, noting that Land Bank and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are ready to assist Maranaos who want to restart their business.
“Let’s try to build ‘yung Marawi at least sa panahon ko. May three years and a half pa ako. Magbuhos ako ng pera dito. Maghiram kayo,” he said.
The President also renewed his administration’s commitment in achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.
“‘Yang BBL na ‘yan titingnan namin, lulusot ‘yan. Talagang sabi ko, pagkatapos niyan, if it’s earlier than 2020, ‘pag meron federal at bagong presidente which would call for an election, I will step down by 2020. Hindi ko na hintayin ‘yung 2022,” he said.
The President also brushed off accusations that he wants a federal setup to perpetuate himself in power, saying that he is already old to remain in position after his term.
At the same time, President Duterte reiterated that he will not compromise the country’s territorial integrity, particularly on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, noting that China has offered to have a joint exploration.
“Ngayon offer nila joint exploration ‘di parang co-ownership. Parang dalawa tayong may-ari niyan. Eh ‘di mas maganda ‘yan kaysa away,” Duterte said.
He however stressed that the Philippine Rise is part of Philippine territory.
“Philippine Rise, ‘yan atin talaga ‘yan. May pinadala ako na doon na Marines, isang batalyon. Sinabi ko talaga, “Walang mage-experiments na diyan hangga’t wala silang permiso galing sa akin but the Armed Forces will have to recommend it,” Duterte said. PND