PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated that the government would not negotiate with the terrorist Maute group, even in exchange for the release of its hostages in Marawi City.
The President made the statement after former Marawi City Mayor Omar Solitario, whose protection from prosecution was cancelled by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), offered anew to help in the negotiations.
Solitario is on the President’s list of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade but who still managed to initially secure protection from OPAPP, which was revoked immediately on the strong recommendation by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“He (Solitario) was commissioned by Dureza. He proposed many things, mostly about talking peace to the Mautes or bargaining for the hostages; for the release of hostages. I confirm that it really happened,” Duterte said, referring to Secretary Jesus Dureza of OPAPP.
“[But] They (Maute) will be treated as criminals. If they surrender, they will be prosecuted. If they choose to fight [arrest], then the state has the right to kill them. Simply, they are rebelling,” Duterte responded when asked if he remained open to negotiating with the Maute group.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, military spokesman, said Solitario was a “terrorist” and that involving him would just prolong the Marawi conflict and thus, the former Marawi city mayor should be arrested over the deaths perpetrated by the Maute group.
“Solitario should not be taken seriously because he is a long-time supporter of the bandits in Marawi. In fact, he should be arrested for instigating the violence there,” Padilla said last Friday. LLANESCA T. PANTI