Battle-scarred soldier: Maute seems to have unlimited weapons
“It’s like their weapons are unlimited,” a battle-tested soldier, scarred during the war on terror in Marawi City, said of Maute group members during a joint session of the Congress on martial law extension.
Speaking during an interpellation with Senator Richard Gordon, First Lieutenant Kent Fagyan, 29, said Maute members appeared to be stronger now compared with the military’s first encounter with the group last year.
“Comparing sa previous encounters with Maute, upgraded po ‘yung dito sa Marawi kasi marami silang 50 caliber, radio frequency scanner, drones, parang unlimited bala nila (Comparing it with the previous encounter with Maute, they’ve upgraded here in Marawi because they have more 50 caliber, radio frequency scanner, drones, it looks like they have an unlimited supply of ammunition),” Fagyan said.
The soldier said the government troops are having difficulty decimating Maute members as most of them are locals who are bending themselves with the other civilians in the province.
He also admitted that the Maute have an advantage when it comes to knowledge of the area. Some of the houses they pass also have been rigged with improvised explosive devices.
“Alam na alam kasi nila ang pasikot sikot. Every areas naka advantage position sila (They [Maute members] really know the terrain. Every area they have an advantage position),” he said.
Fagyan said some soldiers have just finished training in Mindanao before the clashes started in Marawi.
Fagyan said he had been a platoon leader during the Moro National Liberation Front’s three-week siege of Zamboanga City in September 2013. He was also there when the Maute group occupied Poblacion in Butig, Lanao del Sur, in November last year.
But, the setting of the Marawi situation is different for another practical reason besides the better logistical capacity of the Maute men. Fagyan said it was harder because of the height and density of the houses.
Soldiers could not walk outside in the streets, he said, because they would be shot. Instead, they bore holes in the walls of the houses and snake through the labyrinth.
“Three months na hindi kami nakauwi so stressed kami pero ginagawa trabaho namin para ma-liberate ang Marawi. Umaga hanggang gabi, putok dito putok doon. Sabi ng mga sundalo kahit ganito nararanasan namin, ito ginagawa namin (Three months straight we haven’t gone home so we are stressed but we need to do our job to liberate Marawi. From morning until evening, shots here, shots there. Soldiers said even though how hard we are experiencing, we do this),” said Fagyan, who received a rousing applause from the lawmakers and the audience.
After his speech, Gordon turned emotional and told the soldier: “I just want to commend you… for your bravery.” With a report from Vince Nonato, Philippine Daily Inquirer / JPV
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