Filipinos of the Year 2017: The defenders of Marawi | Inquirer News
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Filipinos of the Year 2017: The defenders of Marawi

/ 07:22 AM January 07, 2018

KEEPING WATCH Philippine Marines patrol the highway at Barangay Bubong Madaya, Marawi City, which saw the main battles between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group. —Divina M. Suson

A total of 17 editors voted to name the soldiers and policeofficers who defended Marawi City as Filipinos of the Year.

Their gallantry in action, tested in over five months of highly dangerous close-quarter combat, stopped the Maute-led attempt to turn the country’s only Islamic city into a caliphate of the Islamic State (IS).

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While coverage of the conflict was highly restricted, the daily images and footage and then the documentaries that followed brought many Filipinos virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with the government forces.

One editor noted: “We felt some sort of kinship with the valiant troops fighting an uncertain war; we felt proud of them. So in death, we grieved with their families. In victory, we cheered with them. And all throughout the imposition of martial law, the military remained professional.”

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Another editor wrote: “The Filipino soldiers who fought in Marawi have shown us what true bravery and professionalism can do to defeat an enemy like [IS]. They were able to minimize the losses to civilian lives while ensuring the liberation of Marawi. There have also been many untold stories of soldiers dying to save their comrades’ lives, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country and fellowmen.”

At a time when, and in a general media environment where, feats are exaggerated, experience is reduced to same-day video highlights and language is inflated beyond recognition, the 165 troops killed in the Marawi conflict showed us — or rather proved to us—the true meaning of the ultimate sacrifice. They paid the highest price imaginable to defeat terrorists and preserve Philippine territory.

HERO President Duterte pins a medal on a soldier wounded in action in Marawi City. —Jigger J. Jerusalem

HOMEBOUNDA jubilant battalion during a send-off ceremony. —Richel V. Umel

FALLEN HEROES Pallbearers salute fellow Marines who perished in the siege of Marawi City. — GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

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