MARAWI CITY, Philippines — “I would like to say it’s already done! It’s a complete and total victory for the troops!”
This was the declaration of Brig. Gen Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Task Force Marawi, in a send-off ceremony of the 10th Battalion Landing Team of the Philippine Marines (MBLT10) on Saturday, October 21. The unit left for Luzon to secure the incoming Association of South East Asian Nation ASEAN Summit in Metro Manila.
The military continued with the pullout of soldiers here as the fighting continued to become weak by the day.
Pamonag said the MBLT10 could be best remembered for clearing the 3 bridges that connect the western part of the city to the main battle area where the business center is located. “You showed the determination to finish this campaign,” he told them.
Securing the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus against the Islamic-State inspired fighters who laid siege in this predominantly Muslim city was one of the great accomplishments of the MBLT10, Pamonag cited.
The unit has 11 killed-in-action and 180 wounded troops.
The MBLT10 has become the second major military unit that had been ordered to pack up after Friday’s return to base of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division.
“In the past five months, we started with some 3,000 structures or buildings to be cleared,” Pamonag said.
The MBLT10 was the first to reach the ‘finish line’, he said, adding that the unit was first to reach the final objective.
The task, according to Pamonag, is very daunting and very challenging but after almost 150 days of pushing, the military have come to a point that less than 5 structures left to be cleared inside the main battle area.
The full-blown battle in Marawi started with a supposed raid of a house where Abu Sayaff top leader, Isnilon Hapilon, the anointed leader of ISIS in Southeast Asia, was spotted.
Isnilon, together with the Maute group top leader Omar Khayyam, were killed in an early dawn assault operation, on Monday, October 16.
A day after their fall, President Rodrigo Duterte visited Marawi and declared its liberation from the influence of terrorists.
Pamonag said their mission in Marawi is one of the most successful urban battles “that we have participated’ in the recent Philippine history after the World War 2.
“It is a test of determination,” he added.(davaotoday.com)