MANILA, Philippines - The crisis in Marawi City was not caused by a failure of intelligence but by connivance between local warlords and terrorists who stockpiled firearms in the city and the “soft” policy towards rebels, President Duterte said yesterday.
Duterte said the government was aware that firearms were being stockpiled in Mindanao but took it for granted because of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“We have adopted a very soft policy towards the rebels and this came about because they were bringing firearms. Since we are thinking of getting peace with the MNLF and MILF. The game there involves firearms. We took it for granted. We just allowed it to happen because we never knew until that time who was really the enemy,” Duterte told the troops in Butuan City.
“When they see firearms and they were told that it’s for MILF or MNLF, the standing order was maybe we can talk to our brothers so there will be no trouble (but) it turned out that the Maute were bringing the firearms surreptitiously and we did not know how much ammunition and firearms were stockpiled, and besides it was not a failure of intelligence,” he added.
Appearing in public for the first time in nearly a week, Duterte said the terrorists seem to have an “endless supply” of firearms and ammunition because of the assistance of corrupt local warlords.
“But all the while, the Maute (was conniving with) politicians there, the warlords, and were stockpiling. That’s why they do not run out of M203 bullets,” he said, noting many soldiers were hit by that type of bullet.
Duterte confirmed extremists from Indonesia, Syria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Kuwait joined the Maute terrorists in the clashes with government troops.
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