Saturday, May 27, 2017

President Duterte to troops on terror drive: ‘We will win’

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): President Duterte to troops on terror drive: ‘We will win’

“We will overcome, we will win,” President Rodrigo Duterte told soldiers Friday in Iligan City, referring to the war against local terror groups in the country.

The President issued the pronouncement as sporadic fighting between government troops and local terror groups continued in some parts of Marawi City, 45 kilometers southwest of Iligan City.

Clashes between the government troops and the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups erupted Tuesday afternoon in Marawi. State forces were out to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was reportedly coddled by the Maute Group.

The military reported that as of midnight Thursday, 31 terrorists and 11 government troops were killed and 55 others were wounded in the clashes that displaced thousands of residents.

Duterte, accompanied by top cabinet officials, arrived in Iligan City at around 4:00 p.m. Friday to visit the wounded government troops and the evacuees who sought refuge in the city.

In his short talk aired live on television, Duterte confirmed before soldiers of the Army's 2nd Mechanized Brigade the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao.

Obviously to raise the morale of the state forces, Duterte said that there is no reason that “we could not win because the military has modern weapons, air assets and modern medical equipment.”

“There is always a time for everything — a time for peace and a time for war. In the meantime, let us fight for the country. But just be careful,” Duterte said.

He said that if given a chance, he would fight side by side with the government forces, but his body could no longer sustain the physical rigors.

“I am here to say to you to fight, I will pray for you, and answer everything,” Duterte said.

The President disclosed that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for a soft loan to acquire modern weapons to fight the terrorists.

Duterte reiterated the government will crush down the terrorists who will not yield peacefully.

“I want them to lay down their firearms. But for the hardliners, let us go to war...My instruction is to kill them,” he said.

Duterte said that the Maute brothers were former policemen in Manila who were drawn to illegal drugs.

From Manila, the Maute brothers went home to Marawi and operated the largest shabu factory in the area, the President said.

Their firearms were locally manufactured, he added.

The Maute Group started from the shabu business until they were recruited by Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayaff leader who professed to be recognized by the ISIS, Duterte said.

Duterte also disclosed that the local ISIS is supported by disgruntled politicians and drug lords.

He said the government would not stop until the conflict in Marawi is resolved.

“Let us pray for the deliverance that our men would not suffer casualties, he said.

On the implementation of martial law, Duterte reiterated his instruction to kill the armed men who fight the government.

“I am here to say to you, ‘fight.’ I will pray for you and would answer everything,” Duterte said.

He said that under the “ramification” of martial law, “I, and I alone would be responsible. Just do your job.”

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