By FROILAN GALLARDO
President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend vowed fair treatment to the ISIS-inspired Maute Group fighting in Marawi if they surrender without harming the hostages.
Duterte made this offer on Saturday after military commanders on the ground assured him that the ISIS-Maute gunmen will be soon driven away from Marawi City.
The president said the only way for the ISIS-Maute gunmen to leave Marawi alive is to surrender to government forces.
“If they surrender, we will try them, give them due process, provide them with a lawyer,” Duterte said.
“There will be no oppression or harassment or anything,” he said. “No violence will be inflicted upon them if they surrender. That I could guarantee to you,” the President added.
He assured those who will surrender will be manhandled or starve while on the custody of the military and police.
“I will not allow it. They are not POWs. They are simply criminals. That is not how we treat people even if they are criminals,” Duterte said.
Duterte arrived here last Saturday to pin the “kampilan” or Wounded Personnel Medal to 74 more soldiers and officers recuperating in Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.
The soldiers and offices were the latest military personnel who got wounded in the almost four months of fighting in Marawi.
The army hospital have treated more than 1,200 soldiers and officers who were evacuated here since the fighting started on May 23.
President Duterte also rejected the offer of former Marawi Mayor Omar Solitario to negotiate in behalf of the government to persuade remaining ISIS-Maute gunmen to leave Marawi without fear of military attacks in exchange for the release of some 45 hostages believed to be in their custody.
“No way,” Duterte said.
He said he will not agree to the offer of Solitario but was aware that the former Marawi Mayor contacted Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza to offer to negotiate with the gunmen.