PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte promised to raffle off free trips to Hong Kong as he brought “goodies” like cigarettes to soldiers in Marawi City.
It was the fourth time that he visited the war-torn city since the fighting between government troops and Islamic State-inspired terrorists started 112 days ago.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte talked to the troops, gave them “goodies,” and also inspected areas now cleared by the military.
In a statement, Malacañang said Duterte went to the Grand Islamic Mosque, which used to be the Maute group’s logistics hub and nest of snipers. This was also where the terrorists held their hostages.
Duterte then proceeded to Mapandi Bridge and to the main battle area where he met with some of the troops to boost their morale.
“Saludo ako sa inyo,” the President told the troops.
The President also joined an hour-long command conference with the Joint Task Force Marawi.
Part of the “goodies” Duterte gave the troops were watches and cigarettes. He also promised to give P100,000 travel allowance to soldiers who will vacation with their families in Hong Kong.
“I will not stop you kasi under stress kayo (I will not stop you because you are all stressed),” he said even as he cautioned them on the health risks of smoking cigarettes.
Duterte also promised all the women soldiers assigned in Marawi City a trip to Hong Kong after the crisis.
Duterte arrived in the city around 2 p.m. on Monday together with Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.
“Kayo, pagkatapos nito, maawa ang Allah, Hong Kong kayo lahat. Lalaki, marami man masyado. Ang maraming supply: Cainta, Davao, Cebu. Hindi, may magpa-raffle. Magpa-raffle ako, marami rin. Kung maka-tsamba ka, ipadala mo asawa mo pati anak mo. Hindi ka kasi mag-enjoy ng bakasyon na maiwan. Eh useless ‘yan pagpadala mo ang tao. They’d always hanker for the children and the wife. So kung ‘yung manalo na sa ano… Marami ‘yan ha. Dalhin mo asawa mo pati mga anak mo, with matching allowance ‘yan,” the President told the soldiers.
Earlier, the President visited the wake of Army Scout Ranger Capt. Rommel Sandoval at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifaco, Taguig City. Sandoval was the latest casualty in the Marawi siege.