After five months of battling the terror group Maute in Marawi City, it has finally ended, as declared by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on October 23.
“After 154 days of the siege of Marawi by the Daesh-inspired Maute ISIS group, or after a week since the Commander-in-Chief declared the liberation of Marawi, we now announce the termination of all combat operations in Marawi,” Lorenzana told the media on the sidelines of the ASEAN regional security meeting in Clark, Pampanga.
The defense chief’s official announcement of the end to the Marawi battle came six days after President Rodrigo Duterte himself announced the city’s “liberation” on October 17, a day after the ground troops killed terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon. The President made the announcement during his visit to Marawi.
Lorenzana said both the soldiers and the police “nipped the budding infrastructure and defeated terrorism in the Philippines.”
ARMM Assemblyman and crisis spokersperson Zia Alonto Adiong thanked the military in behalf of the local government of Marawi City.
“I must not forget to address this message of gratitude to all our troops who have tirelessly fought in the last few months in our city. Our gratitude to our splendid men goes forth from all our hearts in this city and the entire province,” Adiong said in a media briefing after Lorenzana declared the end to the fighting in the besieged city.
“We have been waiting this moment to come. Let us bring our people home,” Adiong also told the Inquirer via text message.
“(A)nd we are optimistic that in the coming days, we can fully mobilize all sub-committees of the (Task Force Bangon Marawi) to proceed with the efforts for the complete recovery of Marawi,” he added.
However, he remarked that they are yet to start working on “building the peace,” cutting their time to rejoice short.
The city’s freedom did not come at no cost. The war took the lives of more than a thousand people.
AFP information chief Colonel Romeo Brawner said that 920 terrorists were killed, although government troops are still trying to get to the dead bodies of about 30 to 40 terrorists in their last holdout building. The government also lost 165 soldiers and police to the war, according to Brawner.
The troops rescued 1,780 hostages and recovered 850 firearms.
Remarking on the end of the Marawi war, Lorenzana said that it was the country’s success in defeating the “most serious attempt to export violent extremism and radicalism” not only within the Philippines but also in Asia. As a result, the defense secretary hailed the troops’ contribution to “preventing its spread in Asia” and doing the country’s part in “maintaining global peace, stability, and security.”
Lorenzana also expressed gratefulness to countries such as the United States, China, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei for helping free Marawi City.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella commended the troops “for their courage, gallantry, and sacrifice,” while urging the public in uniting for a “peaceful, prosperous and secure future.”
“With the liberation of Marawi, our focus now shifts to the enormous and challenging task of rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Islamic City. The damage to Marawi’s infrastructure and private properties and the displacement of thousands of residents require the government’s unified and comprehensive effort; thus, we call on all our citizens to come together to move our country forward towards a peaceful, prosperous and secure future,” Abella said.