ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Despite the unfavorable weather condition, President Rodrigo Duterte pushed through with his scheduled visit to more than 169 families now seeking temporary refuge at the gymnasium of the Fisheries High School in Buru-un here on Tuesday afternoon, June 20.
Duterte, together cabinet officials Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Mindanao Development Authority chair Abul Khayr Alonto, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, led the distribution of aid to displaced families staying in the said evacuation center.
During his speech, the President also expressed the pain he felt on the situation of Marawi City and its effects to residents, saying: “Ako ho, I felt betrayed. Talagang nasaktan ako at medyo galit.”
He also asked for forgiveness from Maranaos from Marawi and to his decision of declaring martial law in Mindanao.
“Hindi pa man natapos ang Ramadhan and I would like to say to the Maranao people that I am very, very, very sorry na nangyari ito sa atin,” Duterte said.
He added: “Sana sa madaling panahon, you will find in your heart to forgive my soldiers, ang gobyerno, pati ako, for declaring martial law. Sinisira na ang Marawi. I am sorry. Pakipaabot na lang doon sa mga kapatid nating Maranao ang aking paghinanakit rin sa nangyari. Patawarin ninyo po kami.”
The continuing all-out military operations against the ISIS-linked Maute Group displaced more than 200,000 residents from Marawi and nearby towns in Lanao del Sur province.
The fighting has already entered its 4thweek since the siege began last May 23.
Duterte said he never allowed the use of planes for bombing before but the situation in Marawi forced him to do otherwise.
“I never allowed it ever since. Ngayon, napipilitan tayo. Ipit sa panahon na eh. Kapag hindi, maubos din ‘yang sundalo,” he pointed out.
The Joint Task Force Marawi, in a press conference on Monday, said 62 government troopers were already killed since the siege started.
A total of 257 members of Maute were already killed during the intensified military operations while 250 of their high-powered firearms were recovered by government troops.
The President also assured the people of Marawi that he will give focus on the rehabilitation of Marawi and provide support to rebuild the lives of the thousands of residents displaced due to the ongoing war.
“But this I will promise you, I will set aside initially P20 billion para maumpisahan (the rehabilitation) … ‘yung mga mahirap ang unahin ko,” Duterte emphasized.
The most important thing, the President said, is for the people of Marawi and the government to help and support each other to realize the rehabilitation of Marawi from the ruins of war.
“Huwag kayong mag-alala, tutulungan ko kayo, hindi ko kayo pababayaan, hanggang relocation,” he said.
Before leaving, the President also turned over cash money to the local social service office taking charge of the displaced families in said evacuation center.
Duterte said the cash will be distributed to each of the 169 families.
In an earlier statement sent by the Department of Social Service and Development in Region 10, aid to the evacuees will include P1,000 cash assistance which they will use to purchase suitable food when they break their fast during the closing of Ramadhan on June 26.(davaotoday.com)