PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said the military would have to wait out the crisis in Marawi City as around 300 civilian hostages were still being held in the area.
“The Maute group has 300 hostages in Marawi. When I was there I heard 16 explosions,” Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“If necessary, we have to wait it out,” the President added.
On Thursday, Duterte fulfilled his promise to visit Marawi amid the ongoing battle between government troops and the Maute terrorists.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, after the Maute group attacked Marawi City that left hundreds killed and thousands of families displaced.
The death toll has since risen to 571, as of July 20 — 427 terrorists, 99 government troops, and 45 civilians.
At the end of his speech, Duterte said: Help me build a better tomorrow. Let me end by wishing everyone in the language of the old: “May God keep us forever sheltered in the hollow of His hand.” CATHERINE S. VALENTE