Duterte claims his own cousin died in Marawi clashes
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte claimed his own cousin fought and died in Marawi City where terrorists and government forces have been clashing for over a month.
"May mga pinsan ako, nandoon sa Maute, aba akala ninyo. Because they were there, a cousin of mine died. Nagpunta sila doon, isang truck," said Duterte on Tuesday, June 27, during an Eid’l Fitr celebration in Malacañang.
(I have cousins with the Maute. Because they were there, a cousin of mine died. They went there, a truckload of them.)
"Nagtaka nga ‘yung mga PSG (Presidential Security Group) kung sino ‘yan, sabi ko, ‘Mga pinsan ko ‘yan hayaan mo,’” he added. (The PSG were wondering who they were, and I said, "Those are my cousins, let them be.")
Duterte had admitted in a December interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa that some cousins of his may have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS or ISIS).
"Prangka-prangka, may mga pinsan ako na nasa kabila, nasa MI (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), MN (Moro National Liberation Front). Iba, nababalitaan ko, nasa ISIS," he said in the December 29 interview.
(To be frank, I have cousins on the other side, with MI and MN. Some, I heard, are with ISIS.)
In his Tuesday speech, Duterte appeared to be saying that he met with some of his other cousins who joined the fighting.
“Doon nag-usap-usap kami. Yung mga iba for the sake of adventure or I do not know what. Sabi ko, huwag kayo pumasok diyan, wala kayong makuha dito,” said the President.
(There, we talked. Others went for the sake of adventure or I do not know what. I said, don’t go there, you won’t get anything.)
Duterte did not give more details but had explained in previous speeches that he spent part of his recent 5-day absence from public events going to certain places and meeting with certain people “incognito.”
'Bleeding like you'
The President mentioned the supposed death of his cousin to show he too was hurt by the Marawi crisis on a personal level.
“Kung tanungin ninyo ako kung maligaya ako, I am not. I am also bleeding like you. Kaya I do not even want to talk about it pati diyan sa Cabinet kasi nasasaktan ako,” he said.
(If you ask me if I am happy, I am not. I am also bleeding like you. That’s why I do not even want to talk about it even with the Cabinet because I am hurt.)
To the room full of Muslim leaders, government peace negotiators, and Cabinet officials, Duterte promised to rebuild Marawi City.
“One thing I will promise you, my brother Moro, I will see to it that Marawi will rise as a prosperous city again,” he said.
He repeated his promise to devote P20 billion to its rehabilitation. The Palace previously explained that P10 billion of this would come from the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and the General Appropriations Act.
“We have also laid concrete plans on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of your lives and communities. The Task Force Bangon Marawi, composed of various agencies of the government, is being created to hasten recovery efforts in Marawi City,” said Duterte.
He also defended his controversial decision to declare martial law in Mindanao. He insisted that he had the “complete picture” and "perfected intelligence" of the Marawi conflict when he made the decision all the way in Russia.
“When I declared martial law, I was in Moscow, I knew everything. I knew how long it would take for us and I knew the deployment of snipers and where they hid their arms. I already had the complete picture and I knew that it would be a long fight,” he said.
The Palace Eid’l Fitr celebration was Duterte’s first public appearance in 7 days. Earlier on Tuesday, he attended a National Economic and Development Authority Board meeting and turn-over of Marawi assistance from China.
Duterte is set to have another full day of events on Wednesday. – Rappler.com