DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing through with his visit in Lanao del Sur province even after some members of his advance team were injured in an attack in Marawi on Tuesday morning.
Duterte announced that he will visit the wounded Presidential Security Group members and military troops in hospitals in Mindanao during the inauguration of the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
“I’m going there. The advice was to postpone, I said, no, I will go there. And if possible, take the same route,” Duterte said Tuesday.
“Maybe we can have a little gunfight here, gunfight there…exercise,” he quipped, adding that if he will not survive Vice President Leni Robredo is there to take over.
“You can have a gentle president also in exchange for a discourteous mouth,” he said eliciting laughter from the audience.
Seven members of the PSG and two members of the 65th Infantry Battalion were hurt in an attack by still unidentified groups in Barangay Matampay in Marawi City, Tuesday morning.
In an interview with Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, PSG spokesman, he said President Rodrigo Duterte’s advance party was going towards the area of the 103rd Brigade in Lanao del Sur when two improvised explosive device were set off.
Aquino told Davao Today that one of the PSG personnel is in critical condition. He said the casualties were airlifted to a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.
Aquino said wherever President Duterte goes, they will do their mandate to protect the Chief Executive.
“It is our job to protect him, so kahit saan siya magpunta andun kami,” he said.
Meanwhile, presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte condemned the attack.
In a statement, the younger Duterte said the attack was apparently intended to send a message to his father.
“The message of the attack was clear and it targeted my father and his administration. It was meant to terrorize the government and the Filipino people,” he said.
He added that the attack was “meant to undermine Duterte’s peace efforts and his development agenda in Mindanao and the entire country.”
He said said there are groups who are “not happy” with the current administration’s peace and development efforts.
“The enemies of peace and meaningful change are out on a rampage now that the Duterte administration’s peace and development efforts are rapidly gaining momentum in Mindanao and many other parts of the country,” the vice mayor said.
He also urged the public to help the government in its fight against terrorism. “We have to be at all times vigilant because there are still people and groups who are out to destabilize our government and terrorize the Filipino people,” he said.
The President was scheduled to visit government troops fighting the Maute group in Lanao province on Wednesday. (davaotoday.com)