President Rodrigo Duterte did not have a live target when he used a sniper tifle fired at enemy positions on his third visit in Marawi City, Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters after Duterte’s attendance at the launch of Azuela Cove, a real estate development by the Alcantara Group and the Ayala Land, in Davao City said that Duterte was given an opportunity to handle the firearm for the photos.
“Let me correct that. He was not engaging. He was simply handling this particular piece of firearm. And the President is very conversant with weapons like these and he knows the limits of what he should do,” he said.
“There was no live target,” he added.
Duterte roamed around the main battle area in Marawi City in his full battle gear, heavy-guarded by the soldiers on Thursday afternoon.
The visit came hours after the troops had retaken the Marawi City police station and the Grand Mosque, which once served as the lair of the pro-ISIS Maute forces.
Aside from the top security officials led by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson also joined the visit and shared a video about it on her personal Facebook page.
In her video, Duterte was captured holding a sniper rifle. The footage was not included in Radio Television Malacañang’s documentation.
“P— ina. Kaluluwa. Wala iyon. Kaluluwa,” he said while laughing, after Uson asked him if he hit a target.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. at the Mindanao Hour in Malacañang on Friday pointed out that Duterte, a gun enthusiast and collector, would know how to handle a sniper rifle, among other types of firearms.
“Based on the feedback of our troops on the ground, the President wanted to be at the frontline. So he went to the main battle area. And he visited some of our soldiers who were manning a sniper nest,” he said.
“And in the sniper nest, he tried out and fired on enemy positions in the main battle area. So that is what we got from… as a feedback. So whether there was a target hit, they did not say,” he added. —NB, GMA News