October 24, 2017, 5:47 pm
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Duterte explains Marawi conflict

IN his re-appearance speech five days after he went missing, President Duterte gave an explanation for the military’s “mis-appreciation” of intelligence that has been blamed for the difficulty being encountered by government forces in the ongoing war against the Islamist militants in Marawi.

It will be recalled that Solicitor General Jose Calida said that the military had received intel reports about possible Maute, Abu Sayyaf attacks in Marawi five days before May 23, when the fighting started sparked by the serving of warrant of arrest to ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon. The fierce fighting was the basis of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao by Duterte on May 23 .

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was in Moscow with the President together with other high ranking security officials said,” I don’t think there’s a lapse of intelligence, it’s just appreciation of the intelligence that was lacking there.”

The President speaking before soldiers that compose the 401st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Advance Command post Bancasi, Butuan City, gave his version of the armed conflict that has claimed the lives of at least 58 soldiers, 191 terrorists and a number of civilians. Thousands have been displaced.

Duterte explained: “It was not a question of failure on the part of government. Kasi naman tayo, we have adapted a very soft policy towards sa mga rebels. And this came about because nagdadala sila ng baril eh. And since we are thinking of getting peace with the MNLF and MI, ang laro ng armas diyan, we took it for granted. We took it really for granted na. Pero alam natin na mabibigat. Pero hinayaan kasi natin because we never knew at that time kung sino talaga ang kalaban. Iyon bang mga pulitikong nag-aaway, nagri-rido sila, o iyong mga itong private army ba ito ng politicians?”

Now, he said they realized, “Kalabas-labasan, itong Maute were bringing the firearms surreptitiously at hindi natin nakuha na gaano na karami ang ammo pati baril sa loob.”

He stressed, “It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI, MN, ang standing order naman is ‘huwag ninyong galawin.’ Baka, baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin, na walang gulo. But all the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, iyong mga warlords, were stockpiling.”

That’s why he said, the Islamic terrorist don’t seem to run out of arms and ammunition in the almost a month of of fighting:” Kaya ni hindi maubos iyong M-203 na bala at napakarami. Magputok ang isa ng gobyerno, dadagdagan na—ibabalik sa atin, lima. So parang endless supply when Maute rose to fight against government.”

He said the militants were ready last month and they were just waiting for an opportune time to attack. Thy got it in the attempted arrest of Hapilon. “Naghihintay lang sila noon ng ‘bikil’ tawag nila, iyong rason at mag-serve ng warrant of arrest which is an everyday occurrence anywhere in the Philippines, lumaban. Ayun, nagkabakbakan. At iyong forces ng mga Indonesian nasa bukid-bukid, nagbabaan. So you have a conglomeration there of ISIS fighters from Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka at iyong mga Arabo na --- maputi. Maputi iyong Arabo eh, na… Kuwait.”

If the President knew the things that he said last Saturday, would he have dared the Maute last December when he said “They (Maute) are in there in the forest. I don’t know where and I said, they would stop fighting, provided we stop the offensive or not, they said that they will go down upon Marawi to burn the place. And I said, “Go ahead, do it.”

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