FOUR months after Islamic-State linked Maute terrorists laid siege to Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was hoping that the conflict would finally be over by “end of the month”.
In a speech during the 116th commemoration of the Balangiga Encounter Day in Eastern Samar on Thursday, Duterte admitted that the government underestimated the capabilities of the Maute terrorists.
“Actually, it is the SAF, the Special Action Force, which were organized to meet urban terrorism. Nabigla lang talaga tayo doon [Were surprised]. We knew that they were stacking arms. We knew that there were arms going around and passing around. But we never realized the extent of their ordnance and bombs, explosives and guns and ammunition,” he said.
“Today, we are still fighting but I hope that by the end of the month, we’d be able to resolve the issue,” the President said.
Despite his optimism that the conflict would end in a few days, Duterte reiterated that there would be no need to celebrate.
“And my orders to the military is that kung manalo man tayo [if we win], we do not celebrate any victory in Mindanao. Simply because we are waging a war actually against our own people and it would not look good, especially people who have adopted other religions,” he said.
“So I said na, ‘Kung manalo tayo, matapos na [If we win, it’s over], you just pack up your things and go silently out of the place,'” the President added.
Duterte then assured the Maranaos that he would rebuild Marawi City once the fighting was over.
The fighting in Marawi City started on May 23 when military and police personnel tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf subleader Isnilon Hapilon who was the appointed emir of the so-called ISIS.
Government troops encountered stiff resistance from Islamist militants belonging to the Maute and The Abu Sayyaf groups. This led Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.