InterAksyon (Jun 20): WATCH | Duterte fears Muslim-Christian ‘civil war’ if extremists not contained
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte speaks to evacuees from Marawi in Iligan City. (Presidential photo)
If the threat posed by extremists like the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups who have been battling government forces in Marawi City for a month now is not quelled, it could lead to a “civil war” pitting Muslims against Christians, President Rodrigo Duterte warned.
Speaking Tuesday in Iligan City, where he led the distribution of relief and financial assistance to evacuees from Marawi, Duterte said Mindanao’s choices were limited, with “mag-ubusan tayo (we wipe out each other)” the most likely if the problem of terrorism is not solved “kasi itong mga Kristiyanos ngayon nanenerbyos na rin (because these Christian now are also getting nervous).”
Duterte said the solution he saw is to fast-track the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front and set in place a federal system of government to allow more self-rule in the Bangsamoro, documents for which he said he would sign in the next few days.
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He also asked forgiveness from Maranaos for the crisis in Marawi and declaring martial law over Mindanao.
“I’d like to say to the Maranao people that I am very, very, very sorry na nangyari ito sa atin (that this has happened to us). Sana sa madaling panahon (I hope that soon) you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, ang gobyerno, pati ako (the government, and me) for declaring martial law,” he said.
In a subsequent visit to wounded soldiers in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte justified the air strikes that have been pounding extremist positions in Marawi, saying he was forced to authorize these to prevent the loss of more soldiers.