President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday took a swipe at Mindanao natives who supposedly supported and helped terrorists find refuge in war-torn Marawi City.
This amid the second week of firefights between state troops and Islamist militants in the southern city, where at least 202 have died, including 134 terrorists, 38 government troops and 30 civilians.
"So galit talaga ako sa Marawi na yan kung bakit 'yung mga Maranao, pinayagan mga tao na pumasok doon at manggulo... Galit ako sa mga Maranao na nagdala doon ng ibang klaseng tao, 'yung iba hindi pa Pilipino," Duterte said in a speech delivered before government troops in Sultan Kudarat.
Duterte, who also has Maranao roots, blamed locals for the weeks-long war in the city as terrorists were able to gain significant ground and a headstart against government forces.
The Armed Forces earlier released a video that showed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and other rebels plotting carnage in Marawi City.
Clashes erupted in the city on May 23 after members of the Islamic State-linked Maute group resisted government troops attempting to arrest Hapilon, known to be the anointed ISIS leader in Southeast Asia.
The fighting prompted Duterte to declare martial law over Mindanao on the same evening.
"Kaya tayo natagalan kasi nauna sila doon, sinama naman ng mga Maranao kaya galit ako. Nandon na sila, nakapwesto na sila bago tayo makapasok," Duterte said.
Duterte also downplayed talk that the Islamic State was close to establishing a caliphate in the southern Philippines.
"This is just a disturbance. It is not the entire Philippines," he said.
The president told soldiers that the government was capable of ending the Marawi siege in two days if not for rules observed under a democratic republic.
"Not in a million years manalo sila sa atin. Ang liit nitong giyera na ito, if not for the fact the we are bound by rules. I could flatten Marawi in two days, in 24 hours tapos yan," he said.