President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday made a rare trip outside his office and kissed the ground in Sulu where over a dozen soldiers died in a bomb attack days before. He also pondered about the cost of peace in Mindanao that has been gripped in decades of strife.
The 75-year-old leader said those behind the killing of innocent people would have to answer for their sins to God, whatever their religion is. Duterte's long-time aide, Sen. Bong Go, released pictures of the visit on his Facebook page and the President's speech was aired on state television early Monday.
It was his first trip outside of Malacanang Palace or Davao City since his State of the Nation Address last July 27.
Suicide Bombers in Sulu Attacks Were Militants' Widows, Army Says
10 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Twin Bombing in Jolo: Military
"Ang bomba hindi namimili. Yan ang problema. Pag pinatay mo inosente, there will be a time for you to answer for the killing of a human being," he said.
The President said he knelt and kissed the ground for "my soldiers who gave their lives in the name of peace here in Sulu." He also offered flowers and candles.
Duterte said the COVID-19 pandemic makes it harder for the government to address terrorist attacks, like what happened in Sulu.
"Now, more than ever, our nation needs the Armed Forces to ensure that these terrorists will never succeed in their pointless goals," he said.
"I commit myself to work with you, my dear troops, to ensure that these terrorists will have no future in this country," he said.