Rody to Marawi: Sorry for assault, martial law

The Philippine Star
Rody to Marawi: Sorry for assault, martial law

Photo shows an armored personnel carrier of the Marines, covered with pieces of wood to protect it from rocketpropelled grenades, crossing a deserted street after engaging Maute fighters in Marawi City. AFP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Patawarin n’yo ako sa nangyari.

President Duterte yesterday apologized for declaring martial law and for the destruction to Marawi City brought about by the ongoing conflict between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists, as he vowed to help the country’s Islamic city rise from the ruins of the nearly month-long fighting.

“I am very sorry na nangyayari na may martial law (that martial law had to happen). Patawarin ninyo ako sa nangyari sa (Forgive me for what happened to) Marawi City,” Duterte told hundreds of internally displaced persons at the National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buru-un, Iligan City.

The President, however, stressed that whatever action the government took in addressing the problem when the notorious militants attempted to seize Marawi City last May 23 was necessary.

Duterte’s visit marked the first time he was able to get into an evacuation center after the crisis started. He has yet to set foot inside the city itself.

As he vowed not to leave Marawi in ruins, Duterte reiterated several times that he takes full responsibility for declaring martial law and having launched a massive military assault, including air strikes and bombardments, against the Maute group, some of whom are still holed up in certain areas of the city.

Tutulungan ko kayo. Hindi ko kayo pababayaan hanggang (I will help you. I will not forsake you until you have) relocation,” the Chief Executive said.

“And we will rehabilitate Marawi. Gaganda ’yan ulit (It will be beautiful again),” Duterte promised the evacuees, adding he would spearhead the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding of the city.

‘Bangon Marawi’

About P20 billion would be allocated for the rehabilitation of affected areas, according to the Chief Executive. The amount is twice as much as the P10-billion rehabilitation budget proposed by the Department of National Defense.   

“The President raised the allocation (for Marawi rehabilitation),” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told The STAR in a text message.  

An executive order outlining the “Bangon Marawi” reconstruction and rehabilitation plan is awaiting Duterte’s signature. 

Duterte likewise vowed that the government would pursue peace in the south. He said continuing talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and establishing a federal government would help solve the long-standing conflict in Mindanao.

The President said that in the next few days, he would endorse to Congress the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was finalized by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission this month.  

“I will sign it two days from now. I will push for it in Congress. That’s true. I’m not fooling anyone,” he said. 

Averting civil war 

 Duterte also warned that a civil war between Christians and Muslims might ensue if the Maute problem is not resolved.  

The terrorists, whose operations are funded by illegal drugs, want to replace Moro nationalism with extremism, the President said.  

“The strong driving force is to replace nationalism or their issues like the loss of land to ISIS philosophy… It will be chaotic because even the Christians will arm themselves,” he said.

“We won’t allow that to happen because even the civilian will take up arms. It will be a civil war,” he added. 

‘Forgive my soldiers’

Duterte also specifically addressed the Maranao people in his apology.

“I am very, very sorry na nangyari ito sa atin (that this happened to us),” the President said. 

“Sana kung madaling panahon (I hope it will be soon), you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, ang gobyerno (the government), pati ako (including me) for declaring martial law. Wala akong choice, sinisira na ang Marawi (I have no choice because Marawi is being destroyed).”

Duterte explained that he had to drive the notorious Maute group out of Marawi. 

“But, I am very sorry. Pakiabot na lang doon sa mga kapatid nating mga Maranao ang aking paghihinanakit rin sa nangyari na ito (Please extend also to our Maranao brothers that I am also saddened by what is happening),” he said. 

The President likewise lamented the time that the Marawi conflict had to take place: the holy month of Ramadan, which is not over yet.

He gave out food and cash assistance to the evacuees in preparation for their breaking the fast when Ramadan ends on Monday, June 26.

In a desire to express his sincerity, Duterte again asked for forgiveness as he ended his talk to the evacuees.

“Patawarin ninyo po kami. Maraming salamat po (Please forgive us. Thank you so much),” he said. – With Alexis Romero

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