Treat Marawi troops well, Duterte urges public
BACOLOD CITY — Government roops have started to return to their mother units in the Visayas as the fighting in Marawi City comes to an end.
President Rodrigo Duterte has one request: Treat them well.
To hell and back
Mr. Duterte told a crowd of 5,000 gathered at the Bacolod public plaza on Sunday night for the culmination of the MassKara Festival that returning soldiers must be welcomed or even invited to a party.
“They really went to hell. Others did not make it,” he said.
Members of the 82nd Reconnaissance Company returned to their camp at Santa Rita town in Samar province on Sunday after their deployment to Marawi City.
Hundreds of soldiers led by Col. Alberto Desoyo arrived at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City, Leyte province, around 2:30 p.m. on board a C-130 plane from Villamor Air Base in Manila and proceeded to their headquarters in four trucks.
“It was a very emotional scene. Our soldiers were deployed to Marawi in July and their respective families and loved ones surely missed them,” said Capt. Cherry Junia, information officer of the 8th Infantry Division (ID) based in Catbalogan, Samar.
Some of their children didn’t immediately recognize their fathers, as most of the soldiers were unshaven and scraggly when they arrived.
Danicelle Molino, 12, said she was happy that her father, Sgt. Dennis Molino, returned home unhurt—an answered prayer and an early Christmas gift.
“I am thankful to God for bringing my father back safe,” she said.
The girl said she was proud of her father and the rest of the soldiers who fought for the liberation of Marawi from terrorists.
Junia said the soldiers would undergo stress debriefing and retraining before they resumed operations against the communist New People’s Army.
In Negros Occidental province, the 3rd ID was also waiting for the arrival of soldiers belonging to the 11th, 15th and 82nd Infantry Battalions (IBs) who were deployed to Zamboanga, Lanao del Norte, and Marawi.
Three soldiers from the 15th IB and three from the elite Scout Rangers were killed during the fighting in Marawi, according to the military.
During his speech in Bacolod, Mr. Duterte warned the public to be prepared for possible retaliation from Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists group after their defeat in Marawi.
“Please take care that nothing of the sort will happen again, especially here in the Visayas,” he said.
The Catholic Church also urged the faithful to remain vigilant against terrorism.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on Monday that the military campaign in Marawi was not only against local terrorists like the Maute group but also against all forms of terrorism.
“The fight is not only against Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute (the leaders of the siege), but also against terrorism and violence from whatever quarter,” Pabillo said. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio in Manila