By Genalyn D. Kabiling
President Duterte has ruled out any victory celebration once the government finally liberates Marawi City from the clutches of the Islamic State-linked rebels which he expects to happen before the end of this month.
The President admitted that the Marawi conflict is “almost over” but there was no need to celebrate out of respect for the casualties of the fighting that started since May.
“It will be almost (a) quiet thing. I do not want any celebration of victory. Lahat tayo natalo dyan sa Marawi [We all lost in Marawi],” Duterte said in an interview over state-run PTV-4 television.
Instead of celebrating, the President said the nation should pray and thank the Lord the fighting is over. He said it would also be time to raise money to start the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.
“Every Moro napatay o every sundalo namatay [Every Moro killed, every soldier killed] breaks our heart. Puro Pilipino yan so kung matapos na yan [They are all Filipinos so once the conflict is over], I don’t want anybody shouting ‘Mabuhay! Mabuhay!’” he said.
The President said he never wanted the Marawi fighting to happen but was compelled by the Constitution to address the problem.
Duterte said he grieves for the slain government troops since he ordered them to fight with the terrorists that laid siege on Marawi.
“I don’t want any statement of victory kasi hindi tayo mananalo diyan. Lahat tayo matatalo. It’s a fight that we never wanted to happen but because the Constitution mandates that I have to do something about it, that’s why I declared martial law,” he said.
He said the military is conducting “mopping up” operations, trying to find the remaining leaders of the terror group.