President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he needed 15 more days to solve the crisis in Marawi City, a self-imposed deadline that will go beyond the 60-day period of the martial law he declared in Mindanao.
In his speech during the celebration of Phoenix Petroleum’s 10th listing anniversary in Makati City, Duterte acknowledged that the war against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City has dragged on because of the enemy’s massive stockpile of firearms.
“I hope that things can [get better]… I need about 15 more days. Karami ng armas. Anak ng… Hindi maubusan. This is the 45th, 46th day? Hindi maubus-ubos ang — lalo na ‘yung grenades (They have inexhaustible firearms, especially grenades),” the President said.
“That’s why I’m not in my usual equanimity. Kasi alam mo kung bakit (You know why?) You want to know the truth? Because I declared martial law. And I was the one who ordered the Armed Forces and the police to go there and fight and die,” he added.
This, Duterte said, was the reason why he attempted to visit Marawi City but was unable to because of bad weather.
“The other day I attempted again, but Marawi is always a rainy place. I was circling Marawi, I could not land, I could not go down nearer baka matyambahan kami ng Barrett na caliber 50. ‘Pag tinamaan ‘yang gasolinahan na ‘yan, sasabog talaga ‘yan (We may be hit by Barrett caliber 50. If the gasoline tank is hit, it will explode). But I really wanted to be there, to be just with the fighting security forces, just to show up there,” he said.
“I want to be there while there is still fighting so that I can observe. But I’ll try to make it again, this week. But palagay ko (I think), 10 to 15 days, okay na,” Duterte added.
The military earlier said that the intensity of the fighting in Marawi has diminished and that only about 80 to 100 Maute fighters are left in the city.
On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said four persons detained by the Bureau of Immigration were suspected to have supported the siege in Marawi.
One of those detained was included in the Arrest Order No. 2 released by the Department of National Defense.
Padilla said Alnizar Palawan Maute is being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation while three others also surnamed Maute were with the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
“As to their exact participation, it’s not known to me, but being part of the rebellion is a crime and hence, they are being arrested because of that, so they may be supporters in terms of financial matters or others that facilitated the rebellion,” he said.
The military official said individuals included in the arrest orders do not have to be actually involved in the armed conflict to be arrested.
“The arrest orders 1 and 2 does not mean that you have to be directly fighting alongside the Maute terrorists. Being part of the rebellion does not only constitute being an armed element of the rebellion in the thick of the fighting,” Padilla explained.
A survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that more Filipinos backed Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Taken from June 23 to 27, the survey found 57 percent of 1,200 adult respondents agreed with the imposition of martial law.
Only 29 percent of those polled said that martial law should have been declared only in Marawi City and the Province of Lanao del Sur, while 11 percent said it should have been limited to Marawi City, the Province of Lanao del Sur, and nearby provinces.
The survey found that 63 percent disagreed with proposals that martial law also be declared in the Visayas.
Meanwhile, 92 percent of Filipino adults were aware of Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the survey found.
Awareness of martial rule was highest in Mindanao at 98 percent, followed by Metro Manila at 93 percent, Visayas at 93 percent, and Balance Luzon at 88 percent.
with Dempsey Reyes