DAVAO CITY—President Duterte said his administration remained firm in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism as it graced the ongoing reconstruction of Marawi City, which was battered by six months of fighting in 2017 to retake it from the Isis-linked network of local terror groups.
“The government will remain steadfast in securing the nation against terrorism, violent extremism, and other lawless elements,” Duterte said on Saturday in the commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the liberation of Marawi City.
In his speech during the event held in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, Duterte expressed hope that the nation “will overcome any challenge that may test its strength and the unity of its people.”
“Let us therefore continue working as one to secure a better, safer, and more prosperous future for all of Marawi,” he said.
He also lauded “the sacrifice and bravery” of soldiers and police personnel to defeat Islamic State-linked Maute Group which occupied the city in May-October 2017.
“Let me again give recognition to our soldiers and police personnel, and local constituency for their bravery, sacrifice, and determination in defending and liberating Marawi City after five months of battle,” the President said. “I pray to God that it will never happen ever, ever again.”
Despite criticism over the perceived slow pace of reconstruction, the government, Duterte said, was “doing its best to expedite the completion of rehabilitation projects at the soonest possible time,” adding that government was “committed to bring back the city’s glory.”
He witnessed the distribution of Certificates of Title for permanent housing units from the National Housing Authority, and turnover of financial assistance from the Cooperative Development Authority.
He also inspected the newly-constructed Jameo Mindanao Al-Islamie or the Grand Mosque, considered the biggest house of worship in Marawi City.
He commended the work of Task Force Bangon Marawi under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program. The task force was created immediately after the government took control of Marawi City from the Maute Group.
“We will continue to foster cooperation among concerned stakeholders so that Marawi will be able to build back better and stronger,” he said.