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Duterte leaves to military option whether or not to bomb mosques

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

We can’t have a stalemate for over year.”

President Duterte stressed this Wednesday night as he finally left to the military the option whether or not to carry out bombing runs on mosques where members of the Maute Group are believed holed up.

“Matagal na ‘yan sa 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.

100 DAYS OF WAR – Government troops aboard armored personnel carriers move past buildings in the Mapandi area of Marawi City devastated by three months of fighting. (Ferdinand Cabrera/AFP | Manila Bulletin)

“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 in his speech during the 23rd anniversary celebration of the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Taguig City Wednesday night.

Duterte admitted he was the reason the war is taking so long as he was against bombing mosques.

“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.

The President stressed that he does not want to bomb the mosques as it will just create more animosity and outright hostility in the government.

“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 added.

But Duterte revealed that senators had told him that there would be a time that he would have to stop preventing the AFP from doing such moves.

The President then disclosed that he is now leaving the option to the AFP.

In a command a command conference with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), Duterte likewise tackled the armed conflict in Marawi City, which entered its 100th day Wednesday.

According to Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, the PNP gave Duterte security updates for the Philippines’ hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet in Clark, Pampanga, in November.

The President also received updates on the PNP’s internal cleansing effort, and the recent success on the PNP’s anti-insurgency efforts or operations against the New People’s Army.

For the part of the AFP, Abella said Duterte was provided an update 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 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 the capability build up of both the AFP and the PNP.

“He shared that it is to 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 effecting an arrest,” he added.

The armed conflict with the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, started on May 23, 2017. This prompted Duterte to declare a 60-day martial law in Mindanao which was eventually given a five-month extension by the Congress.

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