HONORED. Government, police, and military officials offer flowers to the heroes’ marker inside the headquarters of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade n Saturday (Oct. 17,2 2020). They marked another year of Marawi’s liberation from the influence of terrorist groups. (PNA photo by Divina M. Suson)
MARAWI CITY – Government, police, and military officials gathered on Saturday to salute and remember some 168 members of the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who died fighting against terrorists to regain Marawi City in 2017.
Despite the pandemic, the government is commemorating the third year of the “Liberation of Marawi” from the terrorist influence after a five-month battle that led to the defeat of the Daesh-inspired terrorist Maute group from May to October 2017.
Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP chief of staff, headed the offering of the wreath to the heroes’ wall, where the names of those who gave their lives were mounted inside the camp of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Kampo Ranaw.
“I share the honor and glory of every soldier of the AFP in giving our snappiest salute to all our heroes, the sung and the unsung, for all that they have done in the fulfillment of their sworn duties to protect and serve our nation and our people. Their service and their sacrifice is a legacy that will live on forever,” Gapay said during the commemoration program held inside the former main battle area, now referred to by the government as the most affected area (MAA).
City Mayor Majul Gandamara on the other hand expressed his gratitude to the men and women in uniform for not giving up on the Maranao people even after its liberation.
“To the valiant and courageous men and women in uniform, who have fought and even laid down their lives so that the Philippine flag could still fly high above and free in the flagpoles all over Marawi City, we owe it all to you. Three years on, we are still telling your family that your sacrifices have not been in vain,” Gandamara said.
Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. was represented by the provincial Sangguniang Kabataan president Jeff Adiong, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) deputy chief minister and Marawi Special Committee chairperson Ali Solaiman, and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) chairman and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario were also among those who joined the event.
“The war was over but we have never left Marawi. To date, our soldiers still actively participate in endeavors that pursue peace and development in Marawi. We have not ceased in giving our 100 percent, war or no war,” Gapay said.
Meanwhile, civic organization Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch (MRCW), which was formed as an autonomous monitoring group three years ago, said much still needs to be done, as there had been no compensation for the damages to personal properties while thousands remain in shelters and housing projects in dire conditions.
“Our aim was not to condemn nor denounce but to genuinely help out and lobby the government to address salient issues that fuel anger, frustration, and potentially, violence among our people,” the group said in a statement.
The group, which was formed to help affected people ensure that the reconstruction and redevelopment of Marawi is inclusive, context-responsive, and sustainable, also said even if some have benefited from what has been achieved so far, the majority has yet to receive substantial help.
“We have been involved in many government legislative and executive processes as resource persons. We have surfaced these issues and lobbied for our people. We have closely watched,” the group said.
Despite this, the AFP continues to be a part of government-initiated infrastructure projects by providing the expertise, skills, manpower, and equipment instrumental in the completion of various projects inside the most affected area (MAA).
He said it is one with the TFBM in carrying out measures to hasten the remaining projects so it could meet their respective deadlines amid the pandemic and other challenges.
The military also said it continues to engage with stakeholders who share the same objectives in providing assistance and support to the people of Marawi.
Among the projects outside the MMA are school buildings for displaced Maranao learners.
“We are hopeful to the good the Anti-Terrorism Law will bring. We’ve already lost too many lives, including innocent citizens who are victims of different terrorist acts. With the implementation of this law, we now have better means to defend the nation against threats to our peace,” Gapay said. (PNA)