“BOMBAHIN ko lang lahat niyan,” President Rodrigo Duterte said as he declared that he could finish off the terrorists holed-up in Marawi City in 24 hours with the unrestrained use of air power.
Duterte however said that the lives of innocent civilians would be sacrificed if he did so.
“I can end this war in 24 hours, alam mo bombahan ko lang lahat yan, I have ten new jets... all I have to do is bomb the whole place and level it to the ground,” Duterte told reporters during his visit to wounded soldiers at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro.
“But since we are in a civilized society, we are a member of United Nations and the Geneva Convention protocol... nahihirapan ako and we had to do it to the least maximum collateral damage, lalo na civilians.”
“Ang kalaban kasi, bibira sila dito... sa kanila mamatay ‘yung civilian o sundalo... balewala sa kanila ‘yan. But we? We have to align our shots against the enemy. We cannot just press the trigger of our machine gun,” Duterte added.
“Kailangan wala talaga mamatay na civilians,” he emphasized.
Duterte nonetheless said the fighting would be over in three days.
The President said that he is taking full responsibility for all the airstrikes against the local terrorists.
“Ako, ako lang... so those bombings were under my order and I will account for it. Hindi pa naman tapos ‘yung martial law. I will report to the nation, what we did and why we did it,” Duterte said.
Duterte, in the same press conference, also apologized for the death of soldiers killed by friendly fire.
“We are sorry that it happened and I hope that this will not be repeated but there is no guarantee... in a war, everything is stretched,” Duterte said.
“It is a very sad commentary... but this thing will happen again and again and again.”
Some 10 soldiers were killed, with seven others wounded, in the friendly fire incident in Marawi.
The military missed its June 2 deadline to take full control of Marawi City from terrorists. It is also unlikely to meet its July deadline to significantly weaken the Abu Sayyaf, which operates in the Basilan and Sulu areas of Mindanao.
The last siege the military had to deal with, the Zamboanga siege in 2013, took more than three weeks to end.
The clashes in Marawi had prompted Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Martial law, declared the same day as the start of the clashes, entered its 13th day yesterday.