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Duterte thanks troops for hard work in Marawi

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Duterte expressed gratitude to government troops fighting the Maute Group during an emotional visit to war-torn Marawi City last Thursday.

The President thanked the troops for their hard work and sacrifices and urged them to sustain efforts to quell the uprising by the Maute Group.

In return, Duterte promised to provide the soldiers with brand new equipment, double their salary next year, and offer bigger housing, assuring that their lives matter.

“Your life is not less important than mine. Our lives are very important to the country and to your family,” the commander-in-chief said during his first visit to Marawi since the rebellion erupted last May 23.

“Kasi lahat tayo nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno on different levels with different roles. But we are just the same – we are here to die for our country,” he said.

Under heavy security, the President flew to Marawi for the first time last Thursday to boost the morale of government troops fighting terrorists.

Duterte, who wore a camouflage uniform and carried a pistol during the visit, said he wanted to be with the troops while the battle was ongoing.

“I do not want to be visiting the place kung peace time at may celebration na, parang hindi magandang tingnan para sa akin iyan,” he said.

The President turned emotional when he expressed grief over the fallen soldiers in Marawi. He said he offers prayers for the government troops and civilians killed in the conflict.

“Ako ang taong nasasaktan, talagang every night kung mabasa ko iyong briefer,” Duterte said with his voice breaking and eyes apparently welling up.

Duterte paused for a few seconds to try to regain his composure before resuming his impromptu remarks to the troops.

“Nababasa ko iyong ilang casualty. Maski iyong sabihin ninyo na it was I who declared martial law at ako iyong nag utos dito na pumunta kayo,” he told the soldiers.

The President laid down plans to improve the benefits of soldiers in appreciation of their hard work. “Next year, doblado na iyong suweldo ninyo. Kayo ang nauna sa gobyerno, inuna ko talaga kayo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered the military to restrain its offensives against the militants still holding 300 hostages in Marawi, saying they should just “wait it out” even if it takes a year.

The President has expressed concern about the safety of the hostages, saying the insurgents might behead the civilians if the troops would carry an assault against them.

“The fight in Marawi will be soon be over,” the President said during an investment forum in Davao City yesterday.

“May 300 hostages sila. Sabi ko we’ll just have to wait it out. I said do not attack. Baril-barilan lang kayo dyan,” he added.