Duterte visits troops in Marawi for 4 hours, 3 kms away from battle
MARAWI CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was finally able to visit the city – albeit confined to the military’s Kampo Ranao here – on Thursday after several attempts since June.
Wearing a digital camouflage and jungle boots, the President came in with several Cabinet members, including National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also in camouflage, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año.
The President arrived by chopper around 2 p.m. and immediately proceeded to inspect some 400 firearms soldiers had seized since the crisis here started on May 23.
He then talked to the soldiers, after which, he also gave them some goodies – including watches.
In all, he spent about four hours inside Kampo Ranao, which is just across the provincial capitol – unnoticed by most people, including journalists.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, the spokesperson of the the Joint Task Force Marawi, later told reporters when the President had flown out that the Chief Executive personally thanked the troops for their heroism “in spite of the challenges” they were facing in fighting the Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen.
“We saw how the President supported us in this campaign. He showed how he supported our soldiers, who have been fighting for Marawi,” Herrera said.
At least 99 soldiers had died since the conflict here started on May 23 while nearly 900 soldiers had been wounded.
Duterte repeatedly vowed to visit the troops since June to boost their morale.
But the closest he got last July 7 was the headquarters of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade in Barangay Maria Cristina in Iligan City, 27 kilometers away.
Herrera said after several tries, the President finally made it to the city, near the frontline.
From Kampo Ranao, the fighting zones were only about three kilometers away.
“We saw how he tried to come here. Now, he finally made it and we are thankful to the President for visiting. We are also thankful that the weather had cooperated,” Herrera added.
Herrera said for the ordinary soldiers, President Duterte visit manifested his firmness and dedication to his troops.
“He actually did not say anything aside from the usual pledge of support to the troops,” he said.
The President left for Cagayan de Oro City via chopper past 5 p.m. SFM
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