MANILA - The head of Task Force Marawi mourned for the soldiers who died in the besieged city as the battle against the Maute group entered its 27th day on Father's Day Sunday.
In his Father's Day message, Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said he considers the soldiers he leads as his own children.
"As your commander in this division, I symbolically raise you as my children and lead you in fulfilling our mandate as public servants." he said.
"There is no greater hurt that may be inflicted to a father's heart than seeing his children die and perish in the battlefield," he added.
Bautista also condoled with the families left by the soldiers who died in the battle for Marawi, saying they made the "ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace."
"Fathers are like soldiers. They are protectors of their children," he said.
The Army commander lamented that many soldiers could not be with their families right now, but he stressed this is a part of their duty to protect the nation.
"On Father's Day, we cannot be there with our children because of our call of duty. We cannot be with our children today because we are serving the people and we are protecting the land," he said.
Bautista said the best gift the soldiers can give the nation is the gift of peace.
"Mabuhay ang mga tatay! Mabuhay ang mga sundalo!"