President Rodrigo Duterte will be very happy to die for the country, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said after the president visited troops inside the war zone in Marawi City on Thursday.
PCOO said Duterte visited the armed forces for the 3rd time to express support for the soldiers, as government battle with local terrorists Maute group dragged on its 4th month.
“I will be happy to die for my country. I need to be with you to show my solidarity,” the PCOO quoted Duterte as saying.
The president “even tried a sniper rifle and fired twice towards the direction of the terrorists” after he inspected the damages near the war zone and visited a temporary patrol base, the PCOO added.
Duterte repeated that the clash would not end until all terrorists have been “neutralized” in the conflict-torn city.
“I am not ready to talk peace at this time kasi marami na akong sundalong namatay pati pulis. We have to end it the way it should be, at ang earlier kong pronouncement, we will not stop until the last terrorist is neutralized, ‘yun ang sinabi ko and that will be the objective, the ultimate objective of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [I am not ready to talk peace because we have lost a lot of soldiers and policemen. We have to end it the way it should be, and my early pronouncement is that we will stop until the last terrorist is neutralized. This is what I have told them and that will be objective, the ultimate objective of the Armed Forces of the Philippines],” the president said.
“Once maano ito we will make sure that we will look for the money to rehabilitate Marawi but at the same [Once it was (resolved), we will make sure that we will look for the money to rehabilitate Marawi but at the same],” he added.
The government has allocated at least P20 billion for the rehabilitation of the City.
Duterte’s first visit was on July 20 marking successful operations to recover Mapandi Bridge and visited the brigade headquarters. The second visit happened on August 4 when soldiers were able to regain the Safrullah M. Dipatuan (SMD) General Hospital or Safrullah Hospital which also served as a bastion of the terrorists.
The 3 months of clashes between the military and terrorists have killed 700 people – 129 government forces, 595 terror suspects, and 45 civilians, based on the latest military report.
Approximately 600,000 residents of Lanao del Sur and the neighboring towns have been evacuated since the war started on May 23.
The crisis pressed Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under Martial law, saying the local terrorists were targeting to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines. Martial law will take effect until December 31 after Congress approved its extension.