MANILA – Despite the government troops’ victory over Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said nobody really won the war in the predominantly Muslim city.
“Nobody won that war, not the government. We were able to kill many... [but] it does not promote peace in this world,” Duterte said in his speech during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business and Investment Summit.
The five-month long siege in Marawi ended last October 23, leaving over 1,000 people dead, mostly terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced. It also left the city, considered one of the centers of Islamic faith in Mindanao, in ruins.
The President said both sides “got nothing” from the siege, which erupted on May 23 as local terrorist groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf sought to establish an Islamic State stronghold in the region.
Islamist extremism is likely one of the key issues that regional leaders will discuss in the annual ASEAN Summit, chaired this year by Manila.
The threat of terrorism has also drawn Duterte closer to Manila’s non-traditional allies, such as China and Russia, even as the United States continued to provide valuable support for the Philippine military in dealing with terrorism.
Duterte said the government will do its best to bring back Marawi City to its original state, with billions of pesos set to be allotted for rehabilitation efforts.
“We will rebuild Marawi. I said we collected so much taxes,” he said.
“I was informed by my revenue officials that there’s enough to start, to lay the foundation of the city again.”