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Duterte promises HK trip for Valor awardees

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

President Duterte is prepared to spend for the Hong Kong vacation of select brave soldiers fighting militants in Marawi City once the conflict is over.

The President has also offered to give away his personal set of guns to the soldiers who receive the Medal of Valor in the Marawi battle.

The President announced the incentives for the troops in appreciation for their bravery during his visit to war-ravaged Marawi last Friday. It was the second visit of the President to the battle zone in the past month to boost the soldiers’ morale.

“May prize ako ‘yung ano – ‘yung Valor, ‘yung mga tigas. Mga Hong Kong siguro. Hong Kong – libre ‘yan,” the Commander-in-Chief said in his remarks. “Kung gusto mo magdala ng partner, asawa. Kung ayaw mo naman, sabihin mong ituro mo ‘yung artista na gusto mo at pakiusapan natin,” he added, drawing laughter from the troops.

The former mayor of Davao City also intends to give away his guns to the bemedalled soldiers in Marawi since he was no longer interested in them. “Kung sino iyong mga Valor-Valor diyan, sigurado, mayroon kayo rin niyan. Ibigay ko na iyong mga baril ko, matanda na ako at saka nawala na iyong hilig ko,” he said.

“Kung marami kayo, bunot-bunot na lang. Ang consolation prizes, iyong mga artista dadalhin ko,” Duterte added in jest.

The President asked the soldiers to “stay alive” and “fight cool” as the conflict in Marawi was nearing its end.

He thanked the troops for their sacrifices and expressed hope he would no longer lose more soldiers in battle. He promised to take care of them and their families, including an education fund for their children.

“We are winding up, that we are entering the critical stage,” he said. “I hope that there would be less heartaches and you’d be able to clean up Marawi, get rid of the terrorists.”

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said yesterday that 523 Maute Group members have been killed in the conflict that started last May 23 and now on its 76th day.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen Restituto Padilla said 125 soldiers have been killed in the fighting while 602 guns were seized from the militants.

Five more buildings in two barangays occupied by the militants have been cleared by troops but they are still holding 100 hostages. Male and female hostages have reportedly been separated by the militants. (Genalyn D. Kabiling and Francis T. Wakefield)