President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday finally reached Marawi City, fulfilling his promise to visit the city and the security forces battling to free it from Islamic State-inspired militants besieging Marawi for almost two months now.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of Joint Task Force Marawi, said Duterte arrived past noon and stayed around two to three hours to talk to soldiers and policemen in Marawi City.
He said the soldiers, who were excited and eager to meet their Commander-in-Chief, were thankful that Duterte was finally able to visit them after a couple of failed attempts to fly into the city due to bad weather.
“Kami po ay nagpapasalamat dahil very cooperative ang weather natin at tuluyan pong nakabisita ang ating Pangulo. Kami po ay nagagalak. Masayang-masaya po ang ating kasundaluhan at pulis sa kanyang pagbisita dahil ito ay nagpapatunay na very firm, very dedicated ang ating pangulo sa pagsuporta, lalo na sa ginagawang operations dito sa Marawi City,” Herrera said during a press briefing after the President has left for Davao City.
According to the military spokesman, Duterte expressed his deep gratitude to the soldiers for their sacrifices and heroism despite the many challenges they faced while fighting IS extremists.
Herrera said the President also handed out goods and different items to the soldiers.
He said Duterte also inspected the various firearms that were recovered from the terrorists.
The men and women of Task Force Marawi were inspired by the President’s visit, he said.
“Ito ay talagang nag-boost ng fighting spirit ng ating mga sundalo na siya ay talagang very supportive dito sa ating campaign,” Herrera said.
In previous speeches, President Duterte frequently expressed his resolve to visit Marawi City while fighting is ongoing so he could boost the morale of government troops whom he ordered to fight and die for the country.
He said it would not make sense to visit the city when there is no more fighting.
“Kasi ako ‘yung nag-declare ng martial law. And I was the one who ordered the Armed Forces and the police to go there and fight and die. Kaya gusto ko talagang pumunta doon,” the President said in a speech delivered at the Philippine Stock Exchange last July 11.
“Gusto kong pumunta doon, ‘yung hindi naman ako maipasubo ng sundalo na really, basta ilayo lang ako nang kaunti, basta I want to be there while there is still fighting so that I can observe. I will try again, not because of braggadocio. It’s just that ayaw kong magpunta doon na peaceful na,” Duterte said. (PNA)