President Rodrigo Duterte visited the wake of Scout Ranger Captain Rommel Sandoval and Private First Class Sherwin Marco Canapi, who were the latest casualties in the ongoing siege in Marawi City.
President Duterte arrived at the Libingan ng mga Bayani Mortuary at 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, September 12, accompanied by Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.
He was received by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año, who were also present to pay their last respects to the fallen soldiers.
The President expressed his condolences to the families of Sandoval and Canapi.
After viewing their remains, he then posthumously conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu Medal of Kalasag to the slain soldiers.
He likewise gave cash assistance to the families of the soldiers.
Sandoval and Canapi were killed while trying to rescue their wounded comrade during an encounter with the ISIS-linked Maute group in Barangay Sangcay Dansalan last Sunday. They were conducting a clearing operation in the area.
The Chief Executive paid his last respects to Sandoval after the latter’s remains were flown to Manila from Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro on Monday.
Sandoval was a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 2005. He was the Commanding Officer of the 11th Scout Ranger Company.
He will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Saturday.
Canapi, on the other hand, hailed from Tondo, Manila and served in the Army for seven years.
After the wake visit, President Duterte entertained several queries from the media.
On the challenge of Senator Antonio Trillanes for the President to sign a bank secrecy waiver to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to open his bank accounts, President Duterte advised the senator to find evidence somewhere else to prove his allegations and not get it from his own mouth.
He explained that while Trillanes signed waivers allowing AMLC to look into his alleged offshore accounts with Chinese nationals, the waivers remain useless since the accounts can only be opened if the co-signer agrees to it.
“He thinks that really people are ignorant. ‘Yung lahat ‘yang joint account niya, may partner siya na Chinese. So even if he signs a waiver, if the co-signer does not, walang mangyari niyan. And the bank would never, never name who is the partner,” Duterte said.
On the House of Representatives’ decision to allot P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the President said majority of congressmen might be displeased by the apparent biases of the commission in dealing with human rights cases.
“‘Yang 1,000 na ibinigay na ng Congress sa opisina niya, kasi galit ang Congress sa kanya,” he said, referring to CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon.
He said Gascon is only “geared to investigate government abuses and mistakes, shortcomings,” and not the crimes committed by the Maute group which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of soldiers in Marawi.
The President, however, still hoped that the House will reconsider their decision, noting that CHR is a constitutional body.
“Maybe someday, they might review their decision…I’m not here to destroy institutions,” he said.
The President also explained the reason why he and his entourage had to wear footwear when they visited a mosque in Marawi last Monday, which earned criticisms from some netizens.
“Yung nakita na nila puro rubbles ang glass eh. And ano, para ka matinik? Ano ‘yan? Papa-tetanus ka nanaman?” he said.
“When you are old, the healing is very, very slow. Kaya kami takot matumba because kung ma-fracture, ganun,” he explained.
The President stressed that their act was not meant to disrespect or dishonor Islam, adding that they were told to take cover inside the mosque for their safety.
“Before anything else, it is the right to preservation. Kaya lang kami doon nag-standby, kay ayaw man rin ng ground commander doon, nandoon kami sa ano, pumuputok. Ako, gusto ko tignan, sabi niya, “Huwag, diyan ka lang,'” Duterte explained.
“Do not draw unpleasant inferences because nobody wants to dishonor a religion, me especially,” he said. ###PND