Flags at half-mast as nation mourns Marawi heroes, victims

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2017 04:17 PM | Updated as of Jun 12 2017 05:54 PM

A Philippine flag is seen on a bulletproof vest of a soldier as he participates in a flag raising to mark Independence Day, as troops continue their assault against the insurgents from the Maute group who has taken over large parts of the city, in Marawi City, Philippines June 12, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

In an advisory, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said flags are flown at half-mast after the high noon tribute “as a symbol of respect and mourning to our fallen men and the civilians who died.”

Malacanang also encouraged the public to pay homage to the fallen soldiers, whose names were flashed on television stations and read over the radio at 12 noon Monday.

“We would likewise remember all the innocent victims who perished as a result of rebel atrocities committed,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

“We enjoin the public to honor these heroes and civilians and pray for them and the families they left behind.”

Government agencies, meanwhile, will begin flying the flag at half-mast starting Tuesday, June 13, the first working day of the week.

“We ask all Filipinos of all faiths and ethnic groups to say a short prayer for our heroes and innocent victims who perished, for the soldiers and the civilians who are still in the battlefield, and for peace and unity for the Philippines,” the AFP said in its advisory.

Fifty-eight members of the police and military have been killed in the fight to retake Marawi City from the Maute group--terrorists who have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after local terrorist groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf, aided by local and foreign cohorts, laid siege to Marawi in an apparent bid to create an Islamic State province in the country.

The clashes started as government troops were attempting to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. The military said the terrorists were planning to launch an attack during the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and the arrest was a move to preempt it.

About 1,000 locals, fearing to get caught in the middle of crossfire, are believed to be trapped in their houses as the terrorists held key spots in the city.

The militants are also taking with them scores of hostages who are being used as human shields. This has proved to be a major obstacle for government troops hoping to end the siege soon.

In defiance of the terrorists who continue to hold their ground, government troops in Marawi on Monday raised the Philippine flag in key areas in the city.