Don’t blame me: Maute built arsenal in Marawi because of ‘soft’ policy on Moro rebels – Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte refused to take any blame for failing to anticipate and prevent the Maute Group’s siege of Marawi City.
In a speech at an army camp in Butuan Saturday, Duterte said the Mautes took advantage of government’s move to talk peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to build an arsenal inside Marawi City under the soldiers’ noses.
“It was not a question of failure on the part of government. Kasi naman tayo, we have adapted a very soft policy towards sa mga rebels…It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI, MN, ang standing order naman is… baka, baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin. Walang gulo,l Duterte said.
What the military didn’t realize was that the Mautes, in connivance with the city’s politiko warlords, brought in heavy weapons and loads of ammunition in preparation for a long stand-off inside the city.
“Pero hinayaan kasi natin because we never knew at that time kung sino talaga ang kalaban. ‘Yun bang mga pulitikong nag-aaway, nagri-rido sila, o ‘yung mga itong private army ba ito ng politicians? Ngayon, kalabas-labasan, itong Maute were bringing the firearms surreptitiously at hindi natin nakuha na gaano na karami ang ammo pati baril sa loob,” he said.
Duterte said the Mautes were just waiting for a spark, the arrest of Abu Sayyaf leaader Isnilon Hapilon, as a trigger to start the siege of Marawi City. Like clockwork, he said that Islamic State members Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Kuwait came out of hiding and joined the Maute and Abu Sayyaf to hold their ground.
“All the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, ‘yung mga warlords, were stockpiling. Kaya ni hindi maubos ‘yung M-203 na bala at napakarami. Magputok ang isa ng gobyerno, dadagdagan na — ibabalik sa atin, lima. So parang endless supply when Maute rose to fight against government,” said Duterte who claimed that that fighting was winding up after 26 days of fighting.