President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that addressing the long-running conflict in Mindanao remains an “impossible dream”, saying that fighting seemed to be the best option to pave the way for peace for now.
In a taped speech aired Monday, Duterte appeared before government troops to honor their comrades who have died in the twin blasts which rocked Jolo, Sulu last week, urging them to “think about peace” even as they continue fighting against terrorists.
“If we cannot really agree, then we fight and we fight hard hanggang magkaubusan na (we finish everyone off). Maybe by that time, kung ubos na ang lahat, wala ng giyera (when no one is left, there won’t be war),” he said.
In the meantime, Duterte said the best option they had was to fight.
“But if in the God’s time, maybe – kailan ‘yon (when is that)? – we will have a time to talk and to ponder about peace.”
He also vowed support for soldiers but at the same time admitted that it would be difficult to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.
“May dalawang taon pa ako, ewan ko kung ano ang magawa ko talaga. But you know when you are into fighting may galit na ‘yan. Mahirap ito aregluhin kasi lahat may sugat na sa puso (I have two years left, I don’t know what I can really do. But you know when you’re into fighting there’s really anger. It will be difficult to resolve because there’s bitterness in their hearts),” he said.
Duterte said it would “take more than a generation” to solve the decades-long insurgency in Mindanao and expressed hope that future leaders would be able to achieve.
“I hope that anyone of my children would become a politician maski barangay captain lang (even if he is just a barangay captain) that he’d be able also to do something about this problem of the Moro and the Christians,” he said.
Never be complacent
The twin bombings will only boost state forces’ resolve to address terrorism in Mindanao, Duterte said.
Duterte told government troops that the only way to honor the “ultimate sacrifice” of their fallen comrades is to continue their fight against terrorism.
He said troops should “never be complacent” when it comes to terrorism, even amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“The recent bombings that took the lives of several civilians including those of your fellow soldiers will only further strengthen our resolve to crush the lawless elements behind this cowardly act,” he said.
Duterte also noted that the safety and security of the nation should always remain uniformed personnel’s top priority.
“Right now, our entire nation is dealing with the global health crisis yet enemies of the state will still find the energy to perpetuate the acts of violence and terrorism. Now more than ever our nation needs our Armed Forces to ensure that these terrorists will never succeed in their pointless goals,” he said.
He recognized that the ongoing health crisis has made soldiers’ responsibilities “more complicated”, but also noted that their “selflessness” to serve the country and people remain strong.
“Because of this, I am humbled by your commitment, inspired by your patriotism and grateful for a continued support,” he said.
He also vowed to support the Armed Forces in addressing terrorism in Jolo, Sulu.
“Bilang isang Pilipino ibibigay ko sa inyo ang lahat ng suporta na kailangan ninyo para matupad ang inyong misyon dito sa Jolo (As a Filipino, I will give all the support you need to complete your mission here in Jolo). I commit myself to work with you my dear troops to ensure that these terrorists will have no future in this country,” he said.
He also lamented how Mindanao’s progress has been hindered by the threat of insurgency and extremism.
“Kung wala lang ho sana itong seed of hatred na nakalagay sa isip from generation to generation sana ngayon maganda na ang buhay para sa lahat (If this seed of hatred did not carry on from generation to generation, perhaps life would be better for everyone),” he said.
On Sunday afternoon, Duterte visited the blast site in Jolo, Sulu, and offered flowers in honor of the slain soldiers.
He was also pictured kneeling and kissing the ground of the blast site to honor the soldiers, police officers, and others whose lives were “snuffed out” by the twin blasts. PNA.GOV.PH