The recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte here has lifted the morale of troops who have been battling the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits for two months now.
“We are very happy that finally he was able to get through despite the risk of weather and sniper fires and grazing bullets. We are very happy. Our soldiers are very much inspired and honored,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command chief, on Saturday told the Philippine News Agency.
Galvez is the overall military commander overseeing the offensive against the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The visit of the Commander-in-Chief in this besieged city last Thursday is the the third following two failed attempts due to inclement weather condition.
The trip was unannounced and only made public when the President left this city.
Clad in a military uniform, President Duterte stayed here for at least four hours.
He was briefed by the ground commanders on the development of the ongoing military operations.
In his speech, the President became emotional as he hailed the troops for giving their ultimate service to free this city from the terrorist groups.
“It is like a father checking on his sons and daughters who selflessly offer themselves to restore peace in Marawi City,” Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson, said.
The crisis started on May 23, when roughly 700 members of the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits occupied this city in an attempt to declare this place as their caliphate.
As of Friday, the death toll has reached to 600. At least 427 terrorists have been killed, while government forces suffered 99 deaths.
About 45 killed civilians have also been killed either in the cross fire or execution by the terrorists.
The ongoing fighting has triggered a humanitarian crisis with more than 200,000 individuals have flead this city and now staying at several evacuation sites.
At present, 41 registered evacuees have died at the evacuation centers due to illnesses.
Herrera said it is estimated that the numbers of the terrorists is around 60 to 70 who continue to holed up in the conflict zone. (DWTW/PNA)