By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Refusing to have a stalemate in Marawi City for over one year, President Duterte admitted on Wednesday that he has left the option to bomb mosques in the war-torn city to finally liberate it from local terrorists to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“Ayaw ko talagang pumayag (I really do not agree with this). It will generate more hatred instead of healing. Pero matagal na kasi (But it’s taking too long already), it’s out of my hands already,” the President said.
He met with top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in a command conference Wednesday.
Duterte, in his speech during the 23rd anniversary celebration of the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Taguig City Wednesday night, admitted that he was the reason why the war in Marawi is taking so long.
According to Duterte, he does not want to bomb the mosques as this will just create more animosity and outright hostility in the government.
“Matagal na ‘yan on deck na talagang gusto bobombahin ang (It has always been an option to bomb the) mosque to capture or kill the leaders there and in the process, sacrifice [the] hostages who are all Filipinos, maybe Maranaos and a mingling of Christians, Tagalog, nandiyan (there),” he said.
“Sabi ko, ‘Ayaw ko.’ Kaya natagalan ‘yan, sabi ko, ‘Huwag, mahirap ‘yan (I said I don’t want that. It is taking so long because that puts us in a difficult position),’” he added.
However, Duterte revealed that senators told him that there would be a time that he would have to stop disallowing the AFP from doing such moves.
The President then disclosed that he is now leaving the option to the AFP.
“The last time I was there, that would be around five days ago, six days ago, I finally said, ‘The option is already yours because we cannot have a stalemate for over one year,’” Duterte said.
Malacañang in a statement released on Wednesday evening said the President was given a briefing by the PNP and AFP mostly on security.
According to Presidential Spokeperson Ernesto Abella, the PNP gave Duterte security updates on the Philippines’ hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Clark, Pampanga in November.
The President also received updates on the PNP’s internal cleansing effor and the recent successful operations against the New People’s Army.
On the part of the AFP, Abella said the Chief Executive was given updates on current operations in Marawi, the implementation of martial law in the entire Mindanao, and AFP’s support to the anti-drug operations of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“PRRD was also briefed on the entirety of current security threats confronting the nation,” Abella said.
The Palace official also said that the AFP also pursued its recommendation for the mobilization of an additional 5,000 warm bodies for its current security campaigns.
Duterte, in turn, provided his guidance and reiterated his support for the AFP and the PNP, and reassured them that he will pursue their capability build up.
“He shared that it is in the interest of the nation to have a strong police force and military component to ensure the nation and its interests are secured,” Abella said.
“He also reiterated his guidance to the PNP to observe all protocols in the enforcement of the law and in effecting an arrest,” he added.
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