BUTUAN CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, June 17, denied that the crisis in Marawi City was a result of the failure of intelligence, as clashes between government forces and the Maute terror group continue on its fourth week.
In his visit to the 401st Infantry Brigade in Butuan City, President Duterte underscored that the crisis in Marawi City was “not a question of failure” on the part of the government.
“It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI, MN, ang standing order naman is… baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin. Walang gulo,” President Duterte added.
However, the Chief Executive explained that the government had a “very soft policy towards rebels” as the officials did not realize that the militants were already collecting firearms and ammunition in Marawi.
“All the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, ‘yung mga warlords, were stockpiling. Kaya ni hindi maubos ‘yung M-203 na bala at napakarami,” he said.
On the other hand, Duterte reassured the soldiers that the government would pour in the things they need such as putting up cooperatives for the troops’ spouses and an educational program for their children.
“Hindi ko kayo pababayaan. Sabi ko nga noon sa inyo, I will try to see that mga anak ninyo… there will be money to support all your children to school,” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief also reiterated his commitment to buy brand new air assets and “war-grade” weapons for the military to ensure that government forces would not be at a disadvantage against the terrorists, apparently backed by foreign fighters.
“Just be a clever soldier. Gamitin mo na lahat ng instincts mo to survive so that you will have a time to see maybe your grandchildren,” he said.
The President also called on the military to resume the use of air assets, saying foreign terrorists are fighting alongside the Maute Group.
“We are up against fighters. Mga galing ‘yan diyan sa Middle East and they have learned the art of brutal killing,” Duterte warned.
President Duterte also mentioned that he is planning to absorb qualified Lumads into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as long as they stop fighting.
“For as long as they talk and shoot, talk and shoot, they will remain neglected. Who is gonna go to the mountains to take care of the New People’s Army composing of the Lumads? And 75 percent of the rebels now, Lumads. Sila ang pinupusta ng NPA. Hindi ‘yung mga Bisaya, hindi ‘yung mga Ilonggo, hindi ‘yung mga Ilocano. Sila ang ginagawang sundalo,” President Duterte pointed out.
“Now I’m offering you. Neglected o bigyan ko kayo ng trabaho, sundalo. I will take them in,” the Chief Executive added.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said that there is no need to worry about his health, as he assured the public that he is in good condition.
“My state of health is what you see is what you get,” he said.
“I am good while I am alive but do not worry about a one day, two days absence,” he added. ###PND