By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Photo: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing Filipino Muslim leaders during a reception at the Presidential Palace to celebrate the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan known as Eid al-Fitr in Manila, Philippines Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Duterte promised to rebuild Marawi city as the siege by Muslim militants continues for over a month now.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday promised to rebuild Marawi and see to it that the city become prosperous again even as he acknowledged that the fight against the terrorists holed up there would be a long one.
Emerging from a six-day absence from the public eye to lead Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Malacañang, Mr. Duterte said he took no pleasure in winning the war and that he was hurting from the destruction and the deaths in Marawi.
“I am not happy that the Maranaos are dying. I am not happy with the hardships you are facing. I see no satisfaction even in winning the war. I just want this thing over, and these radicals and extremists out of the Muslim world,” Mr. Duterte said.
He also said he knew there would be a long battle in Marawi when he declared martial law in Mindanao from Moscow last month.
“I knew how long it would take for us and I knew the deployment of the snipers and where they kept their arms. I already had the complete picture and I knew that would be a long fight,” Mr. Duterte said.
“But if you ask if I am happy, son of a… I am also bleeding like you,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said he had cousins who joined the Maute, one of the groups that rampaged through Marawi whose leaders had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.
He vowed to end the conflict and promised to restore Marawi’s glory.
“But one thing I will promise you, my brother Moro, I will see to it that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again,” he said.
Mr. Duterte has set aside P20 billion to rebuild the city, and said he will allocate more if necessary.
“I will rebuild Marawi because if not, I will remain forever the villain,” he said.
Mr. Duterte stressed that his administration was committed to the pursuit of peace.
“[I]t is by dedicating our lives to the betterment of humanity that we can best demonstrate our obedience and devotion to Allah,” he added.