MANILA - As government troops continue to battle terrorists in Marawi, police mounted Philippine flags in the besieged city on the eve of the country's Independence Day.
Policemen from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said they hope the flags will motivate their comrades who are still fighting terrorists in Marawi.
"Para sa Araw ng Kalayaan at pampalakas loob sa tropa. Mapupuno ang Marawi ng bandila natin," said one of them.
Military officials previously said they are doing all they can to liberate Marawi in time for the celebration of the June 12 Independence Day on Monday.
But whether the government troops meet this deadline or not, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said Independence Day rites will push through.
"Itong pag-celebrate ng Araw ng Kalayaan ay isang importanteng bagay na dapat huwag nating kalimutan," Padilla told DZMM Sunday.
Just last Friday, 13 government troops were killed, while at least 51 were wounded in offensives against the Islamic State-linked terrorists.
Padilla said what's making the battle hard for the soldiers is the terrorists' use of human shields. He maintained that the safety of civilians is still their topmost concern.
Padilla said 140 members of the Maute group, 58 soldiers, and 21 civilians have died in the battle for Marawi since May 23.