What ‘braggadocio’? Duterte pleaded with Maute for peace
President Rodrigo Duterte had been pleading for peace months before the Marawi City siege, so the New York Times did not present the proper context in blaming the President’s “braggadocio” for the crisis.
“There are reasons for the statements of the President,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in Filipino during an interview on government radio.
Abella noted that Mr. Duterte had repeatedly pleaded for peace during his visits to various military camps around the country.
“He was quite open. He asked them not to cause trouble. He pleaded with them,” Abella said a day after the New York Times, in an editorial, blamed Mr. Duterte for challenging the terrorist Maute Group to go ahead and raze Marawi.
“But when they continued their actuations, he said he would no longer talk to them,” Abella said.
Abella recalled the President pleading for peace when he spoke before the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade last Nov. 13 in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
“He clearly said: ‘What is very certain is that I do not want to wage war against my own countrymen. So I am appealing to you all to help me,’” Abella quoted Mr. Duterte as saying.
“The word ‘all’ includes the Maute Group,” he said. “He repeatedly says ‘I don’t want to argue with you. I don’t want to fight you. I don’t want to kill you. But please do not force my hand.’”
But Abella quoted Mr. Duterte as saying there were “outside forces” influencing certain groups, including the Maute group, and the President had warned he had a limit and there were things he could not accept.
“[Mr. Duterte] clearly said he could not keep coming back for talks every month and then, whenever he turned his back, they would resume killing each other,” Abella said.
He also emphasized that achieving peace across the country continued to be the priority of the Duterte administration.
“First, it is really an interest of the President. The foremost intention of the President is peace within our borders. Peace especially within Mindanao,” Abella said.
“Let’s remember that he did not want to run [for President] just because he wanted to. He saw that no one was attending to peace in Mindanao,” he added.
“So let us give the President enough credit. He does not just pick fights. Of course, some people do not know this, especially those who only listen to the media and just choose what they want to hear,” he added.
Abella made the remarks after the New York Times editorial said Mr. Duterte’s “braggadocio” was one of the reasons for the escalation of the situation in Marawi, including the declaration of martial law.
Instead, the US newspaper urged Mr. Duterte to talk with militants.
But Mr. Duterte said martial law in Mindanao would not end until the fighting in Marawi ends.
“Until I’m satisfied or we are satisfied that not a single shot will be fired ever again and all arms there will be retrieved. I want to run them over with a bulldozer in front of them,” the President said.
He again wondered why the extremists did not seem to run out of ammunition and arms, and surmised that they could have been stockpiling these for years.