MANILA, Philippines—There would be no celebration once Marawi is liberated from ISIS-linked terrorists, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga sundalo [As what I’ve told soldiers], we will not have any celebration. We will just go out quietly. Pack their things and go home,” Duterte said.
The president was in Camp Ranao in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur for his fifth visit to the troops fighting terrorists in the conflict-stricken town. His visit indicates the “continuously improving conditions on the ground,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Instead, Duterte said that he will opt on holding a thanksgiving mass for the soldiers who completed their duty and those who died in battle.
“It is a very sad incident in the life of the soldiers. I will not insist on a celebration because walang nanalo dito [nobody won here],” he said.
The president stressed that the government forces did not want for this war to rage on but was simply responding to terrorist attacks.
“Actually, kayong mga Maute d’yan pati mga [those Maute out there as well as] remaining terorista [terrorists], we do not claim any victory over you kung napatay ka o nahirapan ka [if you were killed or suffered],” Duterte said.
“We are all losers here. Maraming nawala at maraming sugatan [Many died and many were wounded],” he added.
Martial Law would be over
The president also vowed to lift the martial law imposed in Mindanao once terrorists are neutralized.
“It (martial law) will be lifted. Anytime. After things are already cleaned-up,” Duterte said.
He added that before martial law could be lifted, the government forces need to ensure that the region is “cleaned-up” from explosives buried by terrorists and that residents are relocated to their homes.
Duterte signed Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, declaring Martial Law in Mindanao after conflicts and clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Maute Group escalated.
On July 22, the House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines extended the proclamation until December 31, 2017.