Duterte reveals cousin died fighting in Malawi

PHOTO: Reuters

After six days of absence from the public eye, President Duterte attended on Tuesday night a Malacañang dinner to mark the Islamic feast of Eid'l Fitr and said that a cousin of his had died in the fighting in Marawi.

The President told those present, who included top government officials and Moro leaders like Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, that a cousin of his who fought on the side of the Maute terrorists was among the dead in the city.

"I am also bleeding like you. That is why I don't what to talk about (the fighting) even in the Cabinet, because I feel pain. I have cousins there in the Maute," Mr. Duterte said.

"Because they were there, a cousin of mine died. They went there … one truck," he said.

The President said he had had urged his cousins, some of whom went there for "for the sake of adventure," not to join the fight.

He said that, even while he was still in Moscow declaring martial law over Mindanao due to the crisis in Marawi, he already knew that "it would be a long fight."

"I am not happy that Maranaos are dying. I am not happy with what you are suffering now. I don't see any satisfaction even in winning the war," Mr. Duterte said.

"I just wanted this thing over and those radicals out of the Muslim world," he added.

The President promised that he would look for funds to rebuild Marawi after the fighting ends.

"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.

"I will again rebuild Marawi because , if not, I will remain forever the bad guy," he added.

Mr. Duterte also recalled his promise to the Bangsamoro people for "a framework of a federal government to give more authority and a wide discretion of what you would want your island to be."

"Long before I won the election, I already sent my daughter-in-law to Jolo that I wanted to talk to everybody that in case, God willing, I will win, we can talk because I am a man in a hurry," Mr. Duterte said.

"Because even in the preparation, the gestation period, it would take long," he added.