Philippines

President Duterte on martial law: Marawi siege reached critical moment

President Duterte on martial law: Marawi siege reached critical moment
By Edwin O. Fernandez

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao (Philippines News Agency) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday justified his declaration of martial law in Mindanao at the onset of Marawi siege by terrorists.

“We know what we are doing,” he told critics of his declaration.

Duterte said he declared martial law “because the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police) told me the Marawi situation has reached a critical moment.”

The Marawi conflict entered its 17th day on Friday, June 9. More than 200 people have died in the firefights, including 40 government troops and at least 30 civilians. The Army listed 140 terrorist fatalities while local government officials said more than 200,000 residents have evacuated to safer grounds since the extremists attacked the country’s only Islamic city on May 23.

President Duterte said he was not proud he had to place the island of Mindanao under military rule.

“But I am not proud of it, I am not happy,” he said during his traditional “Talk to the troops” with soldiers of the military’s 603rd Infantry Brigade here.

“I have no intention to perpetuate in power,” he added, dismissing claims of the opposition that his intention was to stay longer in Malacanang.

During his visit, President Duterte also vowed to provide all military personnel a brand new cal. 45 pistol. He warned the soldiers: “I give you cal. 45 pistol but do not allow your enemy to take it away from you while you are still alive.”

“Wait for the guns, it will be delivered this year,” he said.

Before flying to Davao from here, Duterte told soldiers: “I pray that all of you will survive…am very sad for those who lost lives.”

“We have to help each other…at the end of the day, mga Filipino tayo,” he concluded. (PNA)

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