President Rodrigo RoaDuterte finally set foot on the war-torn Marawi on Thursday, July 20, after two failed attempts since last June.
This trip was confirmed by the Malacañang Palace, but details about it were not provided.
Duterte spent a four hour visit in the military’s KampoRanao, just three kilometers away from the main conflict zone of the ongoing battle between the Maute terrorist group and the government forces.
The military camp is located just across the Provincial capitol of Lanao Del Sur, unnoticed by most people, including jounalists.
The President’s visit is exactly four days before the Martial Law implementation expires in Mindanao.
According to Duterte, he has been visiting military camps in recent weeks to check on our armed forces on the frontlines of the war and also to make sure that the morale of the government troops remain high.
The supposed date for the President’s prior visit was in early July, but due to bad weather condition, the trip was cancelled.
Duterte insisted that he has to see the real image of the situation personally, despite of security threats.
Wearing a pair of jungle boots and a camouflage uniform, President Duterte arrived with various members of the Cabinet, including Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary DelfinLorenzana, and National Security Adviser HermogenesEsperon.
The President arrived at around 2 pm at the 103rd Brigade headquarters by helicopter and immediately proceeded to the inspection of more or less 400 firearms that the government troops had recovered since the start of the crisis.
Duterte said the he intended to be there with them (the army) while the fighting is ongoing. He also handed them goodies and gifts including watches.
Duterte told the soldiers of Task Force Marawi that he have to be there with them, to visit them. That the life of the soldiers is not less important than his. That all their lives (the President’s and theirs’) are equally important and they are there to die for our country.
“I grieve everytimeeverytime I learn that soldiers and civilians die everyday in Maraw,” Duterte confessed. He said that it pains him everytime he read the daily updates from the units managing the operations in Marawi.
“I say a little prayer for those who have fallen… I grieve for all the deaths, civilians and soldiers especially that I was the one who made you come here” Duterte added.
He wanted to supply the troops with the best equipment and Duterte also said that he would act for the allotment of a 50-billion trust fund for the children of the police and military. He urged the armed forces to continue to fight for our country and know that he will fight for their rights.
Liuetenant Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, the spoke-person of the Joint Task Force Marawi told reporters that the President personally extended his gratitude and thanks to the troops foe their bravery and heroism having faced challenges in battling the militant groups.
As for Herrera, they saw how the President supported them in their campaign and that the Duterte showed how he supported our soldiers who have been fighting for Marawi.
Martial Law was declared in Mindanao by the Chief executive last May 23, after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked and took over the control in Marawi City which left thousands of Maranao families displaced and hundreds killed.
The death toll in Marawi has reached to 565 as of July 19, Wednesday. 421 terrorist members, 99 deaths from the side of the government forces and 45 civilians.