MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday struck a conciliatory tone with Islamic State-inspired Maute rebels as he urged them to come out and hold talks with the Philippine government.
Duterte said it is useless for the government to fight rebels, saying nobody really wins in a war.
He also appealed to ISIS-inspired rebels to allow the government to fully rebuild war-torn Marawi City, which was destroyed by a 5-month-long siege between government troops and Islamist extremists.
“So, I propose to you, kayong mga ibang mga Maranao, bumaba na lang kayo at nakita ninyo ‘yung armas ninyo, wala talagang purpose,” Duterte said in a speech in Marawi.
“Palipasin mo ang panahon. Give us time to rebuild, give us time to establish the goodwill, at I’m inviting the other Maute or whatever, nakikipag-away dito sa Marawi, you come down and we will talk (about) how we can improve your lives.”
Duterte proposed this during the presentation of surrendered loose firearms from civilians and distribution of cash assistance and scholarship to 3 of the 27 ISIS-inspired rebels who earlier surrendered to government authorities.
In his speech, Duterte also warned anew about the dangers of entertaining radicalized ideology, citing the destruction that befell Marawi.
“Mga kapatid kong taga-Marawi, [ang] government talagang gusto ng kapayapaan. Hindi namin gustong pumunta dito ang gobyerno at makipag-patayan. That is a waste of time and money and lives. At the end of the day, lahat ‘yang armas na ‘yan makita mo, it does not really mean anything. It has not succeeded its purpose. Nagamit lahat ‘yan, maraming namatay. And today we are back again talking about peace,” he said.
“Ang ISIS naman, walang ginawa kung hindi pumatay at magsira. Eh bakit tayo susunod sa kanila?”
Over 1,000 people, mostly ISIS-inspired terrorists, were killed during the 5-month siege. The siege also displaced over 200,000 residents, and the government has yet to fully open the city to civilians, some of whom wish to rebuild their homes and bring their lives back to normal.
The government has launched a P72-billion rehabilitation program for Marawi.