MANILA, Philippines — After giving up on setting deadlines to clear Marawi City of the extremist gunmen who have been battling government forces since May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday again predicted an end to the crisis in, at most, half a month.
“So … I hope that things can… I need about 15 more days,” Duterte said at the 10th listing anniversary of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati City.
Early in the fighting, Duterte and security officials would predict the crisis over in days only to have the hostilities worsen until they gave up on setting deadlines around Independence Day, June 12.
At the same time, Duterte acknowledged that the apparently huge number of arms and ammunition the extremists had stockpiled were hampering efforts to retake Marawi.
“… karami ng armas. Hindi maubusan (so many arms. They didn’t seem to run out). This is the 45th, 46th day? Hindi maubus-ubos … lalo na ‘yung (They did not run out … especially of) grenades,” he said.
Duterte also said he remained determined to visit Marawi and the forces deployed there “kasi ako ‘yung nag-declare ng (because I was the one who declared) martial law. And I was the one who ordered the Armed Forces and the police to go there and fight and die. Kaya gusto ko talagang pumunta doon (That’s why I really want to go there).”
Duterte, who has tried twice to visit Marawi only to be thwarted by the weather, declared Mindanao under martial law the same day fighting broke out in the Lanao del Sur capital.