Duterte: “That war in Marawi will continue until the last terrorist is taken out”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 July) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he is “always praying” that the war against the Maute Group and its allied terror groups “will end as fast as it can” because of the rising casualties and the mass displacement of residents, but vowed “that war in Marawi will continue until the last terrorist is taken out” and reiterated he will not negotiate with terrorists.

“I will never, never, never talk to the terrorists. And there will never be forgiving there. And that war in Marawi will continue until the last terrorist is taken out,” Duterte told residents of Davao del Sur at the Davao del Sur Coliseum on Saturday, during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the province.

“Hindi talaga ako papayag (I will never agree)  because it is a brutal and cruel organization. .. think.. what will happen to us if we allow them to overwhelm,” the President added.

President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates he will “never, never, never talk to terrorists” and that the war in Marawi “will continue until the last terrorist is taken out.” Duterte was in Digos City on 01 July 2017 for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Davao del Sur. Robinson Ninal / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

He said the Maute Group and its allies have “no redeeming factor at all,” that all they want is “to kill and destroy.”

The war against the ISIS-inspired group and its allies entered Day 40 on Saturday, the death toll mounting by the day:  465 as of June 30.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in his  Mindanao Hour press briefing aired over Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday morning listed 438: 317 terrorists, 82 government forces, 39 civilians.

Add to that the number of evacuees who died in hospitals in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte — 27 — according to reports reaching Dr. Kadil Sinolinding, Health Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao — and the total number is 465 since clashes between government forces and the Maute Group started on May 23.

As of 3 pm.. on June 29, Report No. 53 of the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD-DROMIC) said a total of 388,073 persons (84,086 families) have been displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi, from all 96 barangays of Marawi City and from 20 towns in Lanao del Sur.

Evacuees from Marawi City line up while waiting for the distribution of goods at the covered court in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte on Tuesday, 30 May 2017. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

“I want it (war) done immediately,” Duterte said. But he reiterated previous pronouncements  that the terrorists had been stockpiling firearms and ammunition allegedly for years, that “we never realized the magnitude of their preparation sa kanilang mga paputok” (of their explosives), that they had positioned themselves before the troops got in.

He again expressed his anger at his fellow Maranaos (his grandmother was a Maranao) for allegedly allowing the terrorists to stockpile firearms and ammunition in the city.

He said he has been telling troops he is “very sorry…  but I hope you’d understand that I have this Constitutional duty,” that he would be jailed if the does not do his work “and more in shame, because para akong nag-talaw (I’d look like a coward).

“I had to do it because if not, we would have lost Marawi in a matter of days. At maka-establish sila… makapagyabang sila (they would have bragged) that they have an Islamic state,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)