PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the country’s forces fighting Islamic State-linked terrorists in conflict-torn Marawi City, assuring them he would not abandon them.
“I am commending our troops of the Republic of the Philippines on the ground for your relentless effort and determination in our goal to retake the city of Marawi from the Maute group and the other local terrorist groups,” Duterte said in a video message released by the Presidential Communications Office late Monday night.
“My salute goes to all of you there. Maraming salamat. Mabuhay kayong lahat. Hindi ko kayo kalimutan at hindi ko kayo pababayaan [Thank you. Long live to you all. I will not forget you. I will not abandon you],” he added.
Duterte then urged government troops to continue intensifying offensives against terrorists planning to establish a caliphate in Mindanao.
“I enjoined the operating troops to carry on until our objective of wiping out these enemies of the state and the people has been achieved,” the President said.
“I urge you to remain steadfast and alert as martial law in Mindanao will remain in effect to counter the persistent threat of terrorism and insurgency,” he added.
Duterte also called on government forces to continue “to serve our country and the Filipinos” and to strive “to build a stable, orderly, and progressive society.”
He told the troops to make their “shared dream of a genuine and lasting peace” a reality.
“The people of Marawi will also need your assistance as they rebuild their lives and homes once our military operations come to a conclusion,” Duterte said.
“By fulfilling this, we must not let our guards down against the emergence of terrorism and banditry in the area,” he added.
Duterte’s message was released on the 42nd day of his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
In declaring martial law over Mindanao, Duterte said in his report to the Senate that the terrorist Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups aimed to create an Islamic State wilayat (province) in the region.
The six-week long firefights have left over 450 dead, including 84 government troops.
Meanwhile, Duterte honored the slain security troops for their “courage and bravery” to sacrifice their lives just to attain peace and order in Marawi City.
He ensured that the families of the slain troops, as well the wounded soldiers, would be given assistance.
“Let us also honor and remember our fallen comrades. May their courage and bravery remind us of the sacrifices asked of us as we go about the task of building a peaceful nation,” Duterte said.
“Government assures all the wounded and all the bereaved families that their needs will be attended to. The nation will never neglect the heroes of our Republic,” he added.