JOLO, Sulu—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday visited troops fighting Muslim extremists in Mindanao and expressed his gratitude for their commitment to protect the nation in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and threats posed by the militants.
“To our brave soldiers who are with us today, I personally came here to thank you on behalf of the Filipino people for your undying service, especially during these trying times,” President Duterte said in a speech before the soldiers at Camp General Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo.
“As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, lawless elements still take advantage of and ravage across our land, disrupting public order. Recently, it has been a difficult time for our men and women in uniform due to the escalating tensions between the military and the terrorist groups.”
The nation’s progress has been hindered for decades by insurgency and terrorism, the President noted, telling soldiers, “That is why you have my utmost respect as you risk your lives in the name of peace, security, and development efforts in our region.”
President Duterte also mentioned the tension between the police and the military following the deaths of four soldiers in Jolo involving certain members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
He conveyed his condolences for the death of the military men and promised to ferret out the truth. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) already received an instruction from the President to conduct immediate and impartial investigation on the Jolo incident.
“As your Commander-in-Chief and as President of the Republic of the Philippines, I assure you that I will see to it that the truth will come out be it in favor of the police or the military. Ang hinihingi ko lang ang totoong nangyari,” the President said.
“So you can rest assured that justice will be done to the family at sa mga tao dito sa — ang mga tropa dito sa Jolo.”
Also during his visit, President Duterte witnessed the conferment of the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kampilan on two soldiers who were wounded during a July 6 encounter with the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Barangay Bakung, Patikul, Sulu.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan conferred the award on S/Sgt. Ramonito Q. Diapolet and Cpl. Maynard D. Cabote. PND