MARAWI CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on crushing the extremists fighting government forces in the embattled Marawi City.
During his third visit Thursday afternoon, he vowed the government will not stop “until the last terrorist is neutralized.”
“I am not ready to talk peace at this time kasi marami na akong sundalong namatay pati pulis (I have lost so many soldiers and police),” Duterte said.
Clad in full army battle gear, the President also visited a temporary patrol base where he fired a sniper rifle twice towards the enemy direction.
The Joint Task Force Marawi said the commander-in-chief arrived at the main battle area around 4 pm and left at 5:45 pm.
He tried visiting Marawi City twice before he finally landed on the besieged city on July 20, followed by his second visit on August 4.
In this latest trip, the President was accompanied by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Armed Forces Chief General Eduardo Año and Special Assistant to the President, Christopher “Bong” Go.
“He said he will not abandon troops whether in the fight against local terrorist groups, druglords or common criminals, as long as the troops are doing their sworn duty to enforce the law and protect the republic and do it in accordance with law,” Col. Manny Garcia of the JTF Marawi said.
Garcia said the President also congratulated the troops for a job well done in defending Marawi from terrorist elements and for retaking the Islamic center Thursday morning, Aug.24.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla confirmed that security forces have retaken the Grand Mosque where the Maute-ISIS group had been allegedly holed up since clashes erupted.
Weeks ago, the Philippine Marine troops were able to forward after recapturing the Mapandi Bridge which became a stronghold of the enemies.
On the 93rd day of the crisis, Aug. 23, JTF Marawi claimed that around 600 enemies were killed in the firefight while 45 civilians were killed by the enemies.
The military said it recovered 656 firearms and rescued 1,728 civilians.