Duterte: I will try to attain peace until last day of my term

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will try to attain peace in the country until the end of his term.

"I will persist in our goal of attaining peace [up] to the last day of this administration and maybe even beyond although in a different capacity," the President said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday.

As part of his plans to achieve this, he expressed full support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) who are battling with ISIS-inspired Maute group members in Marawi City.

"To decisively address insurgency and terrorism, we are working doubly hard towards a stronger and more credible national defense system for the country. We continue to strengthen the defense capability of the AFP as a deterrence against terrorists, lawless elements, and other threats," he said.

 

Explaining Mindanao martial law

Duterte explained to Congress that putting the island of Mindanao under martial law helped government forces to quell the rebellion.

"Martial Law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus enabled the military to arrest, detain and question suspected members and sympathizers of the rebellion similar to what happened to the parents of the Maute brothers," he said, referring to Cayamora and Ominta Maute.

The  military believes the Maute parents are providing financial and logistical support to sons Omar and Abdullah Maute, leaders of the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group, which attacked Marawi City on May 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte has since declared martial law throughout Mindanao. On Saturday, Congress approved the extension of martial law until December 31, 2017.

READ: Congress grants Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until end of year

"The people of Marawi need help. Caught in the crossfire between government troops and Muslim extremists, they have been through hell and we need to help them rise and move forward," Duterte said.

Bully against state enemy

But the President reiterated he would not continue peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

"Kayong mga Left, I will not talk to you. Why should I? Wag niyo na akong pilitin," he said. (I will not talk to the Left. Why should I? Don't pressure me into it)

Duterte added that despite being "friends" with the NDF, he had to do his responsibility as head of the Republic.

 

"Talagang bully ako, especially to the enemies of the state. Talagang bully ako," he said, referring to the NDF. (I'm really a bully to the enemies of the state.)

Peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) were dropped by Duterte after members of the New People's Army clashed with the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato, on July 19.

In his previous SONA, Duterte proposed a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA.

After his annual speech, Duterte then met with militant groups staging a rally outside the Batasang Pambansa to ask for more time to fulfill his promises. But when the crowd clamored for "peace talks", Duterte responded by saying not to destroy the relationship between the government and the Left.

READ: Duterte to SONA protesters: Give me more time, I will deliver