Filipinos line streets to welcome troops from Marawi

 30 Oct 2017 - 8:24

Filipinos line streets to welcome troops from Marawi
Government soldiers wave while atop of the tank after the send-off ceremony ending their combat duty against pro-Islamic State militant groups, after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the liberation of Marawi city on Monday, in Saguiaran, Lanao Del Sur, southern Philippines October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: Thousands of Filipinos lined the streets Monday morning of this southern city and the country's capital city of Manila to welcome home government troops returning from Marawi city.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. General Carlito Galvez and Naval Forces Rear Admiral Rene Medina led the heroes welcome rites inside the WestMinCom headquarters in Camp Navarro.

"We really pay tribute and honor in recognition to the effort of our soldiers especially the Fleet-Marine troops in Marawi for their sterling performance, bravery. We are very thankful for their participation and with that we give this heroes welcome," Medina told reporters.

The troops are composed of the 3rd Scout Ranger (Excelsior) Battalion, sailors, marines, seals, and aviators, arrived on the BRP Tarmac (LD601) from Iligan City after their deployment in the Naval Forces Western Mindanao area of responsibility.

At the height of the battle in Marawi, the soldiers contributed to the military offensives against the Daesh-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists since May 23.Nearly a thousand militants, including their leaders Isnilon Hapilon and the seven Maute brothers were killed in the five-month operations. A total of 165 government forces were also killed in the fighting.

"Masayang masaya kami nakita namin muli ang anak namin nandito na buong buo. Salamat sa Diyos (We are very very happy we have seen again our son here already intact. Thanks to God)," Adoracion Guerrero, one of the families of a returning soldier carrying Philippine flaglets, said in Tagalog in an interview.

Officials of the local government unit of Zamboanga City led by Mayor Isabelle Climaco Salazar read a statement of the awarding of personnel given to the hundreds of troops for their achievemnents during the military operations in Marawi.

In Manila, the returning troops paraded in a motorcade to Marine Base Rudiardo Brown in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, via the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard and EDSA, as people carrying small flags and streamers placards and streamers with welcoming messages lined up in the streets.

Authorities said it is expected to recover the remains of at least 100 persons from the liberated battle area in Marawi City which was declared free from terrorists last week.

Government forces terminated combat operations on October 23.Mr. Alonto Adiong, assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and spokesman of the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis management committee, said at least 61 civilians are missing.

He said many bodies are buried in the ruins, most of them belonging to the Maute.

From the fatality count of 920, only 200 Maute bodies have been accounted for.

Adiong also said residents of Barangay Basak Malutlut, site of the initial clashes, started returning to their homes the other day.

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said the returning residents are being restricted to the barangay for their safety.

He said they are very strict and that returning residents are restricted in the barangay who will be given special passes so they can go to the vicinity of Mindanao State University and visit the marketplace.

"Daesh or IS sympathizers are still pursuing the establishment of a caliphate in the country. There are fresh efforts to recruit young fighters,” he said.