February 20, 2018, 4:01 pm
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Take no prisoners

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte had tried to negotiate with the Maute group to end the Marawi City siege but backed out the last minute, says a Reuters news report.

The report quoted Agakhan Sharief, a respected Muslim leader, who had direct communication with the Islamist group that seized part of Marawi last May 23.

Two other sources from Marawi confirmed that the President had worked behind the scenes to hold talks with the Maute brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah.

But these efforts were scrapped following the President’s strongly worded speeches to boost the morale of the fighting troops.

In a speech before the soldiers on May 31, he declared that “we will not talk to terrorists.”

Duterte’s latest verbal tirade against the Islamist radicals who attacked Marawi was terse but no less lethal: Take no prisoners.’

Before the 102nd Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Sarangani province, the commander in chief announced his war policy of extermination. He did not mince words when he directed the troops to kill all who took part in the rebellion.

With the Supreme Court solidly behind Duterte’s Proclamation 216 putting the whole of Mindanao under martial law, it would seem that no one will challenge this latest presidential pronouncement.

In a practical sense, the President is correct that if the terrorists are allowed to live, it would complicate things. He explained that the government would still need to feed the detainees and bring them to court when the jails and the courts and other government buildings have been leveled by the intense fighting and bombings.

In other words, as the government spends money and time to rehabilitate Marawi, it would not have the luxury of providing the usual judicial services to citizens, both suspects and complainants. Note that suspected criminals must be tried in the jurisdiction where they allegedly committed the crime, and the city’s courts would not be in a position to process them in the meantime.

Something has to give, because the government has to prioritize the Marawi victims, displaced residents, military and police casualties, etc. before training its eyes on the perpetrators. 

The short-cut rule is what Duterte has succinctly said: Take no prisoners.
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