October 23, 2017, 3:47 pm
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Govt’ won’t be caught unprepared again: Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday said there may have been “failures” that resulted in the attack in Marawi City by the terrorist Maute Group but he would rather prepare the country and ensure any terror attack would not happen again.

Government forces have been battling the Maute Group since May 23 when the group attacked the city. Officials have belittled the Maute, saying early on that the conflict would not take long. The Maute was later found to have carefully planned the attack. Troops are still ridding the city of Maute men and clearing structures they took over. The military said about 40 terrorists remain in the city. The conflict has so far killed 802 Maute men, 160 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians dead.

The latest military projection is that the conflict would end before Sunday.

“In Marawi, you’d notice that we are into the fourth month. Maybe there’s a failure somewhere. But I don’t look for mistakes. It is there already. It has happened. So what’s the use of flogging a dead horse? And so I vow that I would never be, you know, caught in the same situation of unpreparedness,” Duterte said.

Duterte said the country also could not afford a wide-scale war especially in Mindanao.

He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, which are former rebel groups, “are cooperating with government, fighting alongside with government forces, but they are hoping that what they have been asking for centuries will be given.”

“If their common determination, their dream is, ends in failure or a disappointment, magkaisa itong lahat (they will all unite) against the Republic of the Philippines. And I have it in good authority that they will declare independence. They would declare an independent Mindanao,” he said.

The President said he is preparing the military through additional equipment including firearms that are set to arrive from Russia.

Duterte said he is also set to talk to Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza about developments in Mindanao including the peace talks with the Moro groups.
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