MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 24 May) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) honored at least 168 soldiers killed during the five-month urban warfare between the military and Islamic State-inspired militants in Marawi City on Sunday, 23 May, during the fourth commemoration of the Marawi siege.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, AFP Chief of Staff, assured the military will continue to perform its mandate to protect the country and its citizens, citing their liberation of Marawi from the hands of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups that seized the country’s only Islamic city four years ago in a bid to make it a province of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
He noted that state forces “witnessed the debilitating consequences” of the Marawi siege staged by the Islamic State-inspired militants, which led to the five-month war that destroyed the core of the city and the way of life of its people.
Sobejana led military officers and local officials during the wreath-laying rites to honor the 168 fallen soldiers inside the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Kampo Ranao here.
The exceptional gallantry and the selfless dedication to duty of the Filipino soldiers who fought in the battleground will always served as a bottomless well of inspiration for all of us, Sobejana said.
“As we reaffirmed our commitment in pursuit of lasting peace in Marawi City and the entire country, we shall honor the sacrifices of these men and women as they have offered their lives to fight for our country and our people,” he said.
Sobejana said “it is a humbling experience to witness the resilience of the Meranaw people as they painstakingly and patiently emerged from the rubble to rebuild Marawi City.”
“It is a big honor for us in the AFP to help in the efforts to rebuild Marawi and the lives of its people,” he said.
” Though we have made significant progress in our efforts to bring back peace to Marawi and its people, it remains our primordial responsibility to ensure that peace will be sustained and guarded,” he added.
On Saturday, Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, spearheaded the planting of 168 golden trumpet saplings at the relocation site constructed by the UN Habitat in Barangay Dulay.
Housing Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi, said they are pushing the development of the 10-hectare military camp in the city for the security of Marawi residents.