- Presidential spokesman scored US paper for claiming Duterte’s braggadocio provoked Maute attack
- He said president actually wanted peace, pleaded with groups not to cause trouble
- He also said Duterte the offended party, had no other choice but to fight back
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang Palace has rebuffed American newspaper New York Times’ claim that President Rodrigo Duterte’s braggadocio spurred the Maute militants to attack Marawi City; saying he actually pleaded with all groups not to start trouble.
“He was quite open. He asked them not to cause trouble. He pleaded with them,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella as saying. “But when they continued their actuations, he said he would no longer talk to them.”
“He clearly said: ‘What is very certain is that I do not want to wage war against my own countrymen. So I am appealing to you all to help me,’” he added. “The word ‘all’ includes the Maute Group.”
Abella also explained that Duterte was the offended party who had no choice but to fight back after being provoked by the Maute group.
“He repeatedly says ‘I don’t want to argue with you. I don’t want to fight you. I don’t want to kill you. But please do not force my hand,’” he said. “He clearly said he could not keep coming back for talks every month and then, whenever he turned his back, they would resume killing each other.”
Abella added that in the end, Duterte’s first and foremost aim is total peace in Mindanao.
“First, it is really an interest of the President. The foremost intention of the President is peace within our borders. Peace especially within Mindanao,” he said. “Let’s remember that he did not want to run just because he wanted to. He saw that no one was attending to peace in Mindanao.”