WATCH | ‘Marawi will rise again,’ Duterte vows

June 28, 2017 - 7:22 AM
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President Rodrigo Duterte talks to MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim during the dinner marking Eid'l Fitr in Malacañang. (Presidential photo)

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Tuesday that Marawi City, still in the grip of fighting between extremist gunmen and government forces after more than a month, “will rise again as a prosperous city.”

At the same time, he said, “I am also bleeding like you” over Marawi “kaya (that’s why) I don’t even want to talk about it, kahit kami diyan sa Cabinet, kasi nasasaktan ako (even we in the Cabinet, because it hurts me).”

Speaking at a dinner he hosted in Malacañang to mark Eid’l Fitr Duterte also claimed to have known “it would be a long fight” when he declared martial law in Moscow on May 23, soon after clashes broke out in Marawi, because he had detailed knowledge of the Maute group’s deployment.

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Alam ko na (I already knew) how long it would take at alam ko ang deployment ng mga sniper, pati kung saan nila tinago mga armas nila (and I knew the deployment of their snipers, including where they had hid their arms),” he claimed.

This tended to go against his earlier pronouncements, such as his prediction on June 4, that the clashes in Marawi could end in “about three more days.” Earlier, Duterte and security officials also set deadlines to flush out the extremists but gave up doing so by Independence Day on June 12.

Addressing guests who included the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Marawi City Majul Usman Gandamra, Duterte vowed: “Tatapusin ko talaga ito (I will really finish this), but one thing I will promise you my brother Moro … I will see to it that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again.”

“I am very sorry that this has to happen,” he said. I am not happy na (na)mamatay ang mga Maranao. Hindi ako maligaya sa hirap ninyo ngayon (I am not happy with your present hardships).”

Wala akong makitang (I see no) satisfaction in winning the war,” he added.

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The Palace dinner came at the end of a six-day absence from the public eye, the second time Duterte has dropped from sight for days since the Marawi crisis broke out. The absences have raised speculation about his health.

But Tuesday was a relatively busy day for him. Before the dinner, he presided over a meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority board and received a P15-million check from China for the rehabilitation of Marawi.