Independence Day rites to push through in besieged Marawi

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2017 12:08 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2017 02:35 PM

MANILA -- Independence Day rites will push through in the besieged city of Marawi on Monday, amid the continuing clashes between government troops and terrorists there.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the Philippine flag will be raised in Marawi's capitol to celebrate the country's 119th Independence Day.

"Itong pag-celebrate ng Araw ng Kalayaan ay isang importanteng bagay na dapat huwag nating kalimutan," Padilla told DZMM Sunday.

"Kaya simula sa ating sentro sa Rizal Monument at sa lahat ng ibang lugar, pati na sa Marawi diyan sa kaptilyo, magkakaroon po tayo ng paggunita," he added.

Padilla, however, said it is still uncertain if the government troops will be able to liberate Marawi City from terrorists on June 12, but assured the public that they are doing their best.

"Hindi po natin masasabi na tuloy-tuloy nating makuha... Sa dami ng buhay ng naibuwis determinado tayong ilibre at sagipin ang Marawi mula sa kamay nitong mga bandido," he said.

Just last Friday, 13 government troops were killed, while at least 51 were wounded in offensives against the Islamic State-linked terrorists.

The military official said what happened just shows that the terrorists have established strong defense in their remaining strongholds.

Padilla said what's making the battle hard for the soldiers is the use of human shields by the terrorists. He maintained that the safety of civilians is still their topmost concern.

"Napasok na po tayo sa urban operations at close quarter combat... Ang mga ginagamit nilang bihag, ihaharang nila sa pagitan ng kanilang puwersa at sa atin," he said.

Padilla said a total of 140 members of the Maute group, 58 soldiers, and 21 civilians have died in the battle for Marawi since May 23.

The latest civilian fatality, he said, was a 15-year-old boy who was killed by sniper fire inside a mosque in the battle-torn city.

Meanwhile, Padilla said that the United States and Southeast Asian countries are already helping the government in the fight against the terrorists occupying in Marawi.

But he said the role of the US in the war in Marawi is only in "technical support" and they are not allowed to fight alongside soldiers in the battlefield.

"Ang ating ground commanders ay naghingi ng tulong at nagpadala ng request ng technical support sa ating kaalyadong bansa. Hanggang sa ganoon lang sila nagbibigay ng tulong," he said.

"Bawal sa ating batas na sila ay pumunta sa ano mang lugar na meron tayong bakbakan," he added while declining to expound on the specifics of the aid from US.

The country's Southeast Asian neighbors, he said, are also providing information about some of the terrorists and are guarding the sea borders to make sure none of them escapes.