DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 May) — President Rodrigo Duterte will talk to newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad about his plan to send surrenderers of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group to study agriculture in Malaysia.
Duterte said during the presentation of surrendered firearms and distribution of assistance to Maute Group surrenderers at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol Gym in Marawi City on Friday that he would want the Maute Group surenderrers to study about rubber and oil palm in Malaysia, as he reiterated his promise to rebuild Marawi.
“Mag-aral kayo doon magtanim ng rubber pati palm oil. Ang palm oil, medyo mahirap sa bukid pero ang rubber, ganun na lang kaganda (You study there how to plant rubber, including oil palm. The oil palm is quite difficult to grow in the mountain but the rubber there is good),” he said.
The President also wanted to bring the Maute surrenderers to Malacañan Palace where they can talk.
Among the 25 ISIS-Maute Group surrenderers presented to Duterte included the 34-year old Adliah Miimbantas Maute, wife of Mohammad Kahyam “Otto” Maute, the eldest of the Maute brothers, and 69-year old former Butig, Lanao del Sur Mayor Ibrahim Mitoon Macadato, a press release from the President Communicatios and Operations Office (PCOO) said.
Some 1,678 firearms were also voluntarily surrendered by the constituents from Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte in support of the government’s campaign against loose firearms, it added.
Duterte also expressed his admiration to the 92-year old Mahathir, the country’s prime minister from 1981 to 2003, who made a comeback after 15 years when he defeated former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Alam mo bakit? What is Malaysia today? Pawis ni Mahathir ‘yan. Kaya kausapin ko siya na may papuntahin ako para mag-aral lang kayo (You know why? What is Malaysia today? It’s all Mahathir’s sweat. I will talk to him that I’d bring you there to sudy). The whole of Maute Group can go there,” he added.
The President also promised to give them land.
“Ngayon, ‘yung mahirap, magtulong ako sa inyo and therefore, the whole of Lanao, magla-land reform ako (Now, I will help the poor and therefore, the whole of Lanao will be under land reform),” Duterte said.
Duterte said he plans to place Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur under land reform, and distribute government properties. The President also vowed to provide support such as tractors, fertilizers, and seedlings.
The President appealed to the Meranaws to give the government “little time” to undergo the rehabilitation and vowed to return their properties after clearing the debris of the destruction after nearly five months of armed clashes between government and the Maute Group.
“Give us time to rebuild, give us time to establish the goodwill, at I’m inviting the other Maute or whatever, nakikipag-away dito sa Marawi (those who fought Marawi), you come down and we will talk how we can improve your lives,” he said.
The Marawi siege on May 23,2017 prompted the President to place the entire Mindanao under martial law, which was extended twice last year to cover until the end of 2018.
“I have a duty that’s why kailangan ko talagang to declare martial law.But you know, I was not very happy with it. It was a decision most painful to me because I know that lives will be wasted,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)