Girl power: Female troops to embark on Marawi peace mission

Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2017 07:30 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2017 09:24 PM

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

More than 100 female soldiers and police head to conflict-stricken Marawi City on a peace mission. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Air

PASAY CITY - More than 100 female soldiers and police flew to Marawi City on Tuesday to embark on a peace mission in the war-torn city.

The troops left Manila via a C-130 flight following send-off ceremonies organized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the Villamor Air Base Tuesday morning.

Among them, 36 are Muslims, including 22 who are Maranao. All the women wore a white 'hijab' as a symbol of solidarity. 

Prior to flying to their assignment, the troops underwent pre-deployment training organized by the AFP-Civil Military Operations School and the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement from Aug. 21 to 25.

"Ito po'y magtuturo sa ating mga bata, kabataan dun sa Marawi on the values of peace, love and oneness in humanity," said Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, founder of the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement.

Before boarding the plane, loved ones and well wishers were given a chance to approach the troops to say goodbye. 

Among those who left for Marawi was a corporal who was sent off by her boyfriend, an Army lieutenant.

Corporal Mari Jane Laplana was locked in an embrace with her boyfriend, who even planted a kiss on her cheek before she boarded the plane.

"That is all part and parcel of our job," she said, adding that she is excited to go to Marawi City.

AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año also gave an encouraging message to the female troops.

"Sa tuwing kayo'y makakaramdam ng lungkot at pag-aalinlangan, isipin niyo lagi na kayo din ay mga bayani sa inyong sariling pamamaraan. Bihira lamang ang mabibigyan ng pagkakataong makapaglingkod sa bayan at mga taong sobrang nangangailangan ng tulong at pag-gabay," he said.

Of the 105 female troops, 60 are enlisted AFP personnel, 40 are non-commissioned officers of the PNP, and 5 are Army officers, the military said.

The troops will assist in the implementation of programs that will help internally displaced persons traumatized by the ongoing siege in the Islamic City.

More than 700 people, mostly terror suspects, have been killed in clashes that erupted between government troops and Islamic State-inspired extremists on May 23.

The conflict has displaced more than 200,000 residents from city and thousands more from nearby areas.