MANILA - From the frontlines of battle to the presidential plane.
President Rodrigo Duterte took nine wounded soldiers with him aboard the presidential plane on the way to Manila after his visit to troops at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday night.
Palace officials said the President himself walked with the soldiers and rode with them on an ambulance on the way to the airport. They then boarded the F-28 presidential aircraft.
The nine soldiers were among men who fought in Marawi City which has been besieged by terrorists belonging to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups for nearly a month now.
During his visit to soldiers at the camp, Duterte also expressed grief over the death of government troops in the nearly month-long clashes.
"I want just to express my sincerest condolences at ako man ang unang nasasaktan diyan. Ako ang commander-in-chief niyo, ayoko talaga mag martial law, napipilitan lang ako dahil ang gulo sa Mindanao," said Duterte.
As of Tuesday, the military said 66 troopers were among 360 who have been killed in the firefights, along with 26 civilians and 268 terror suspects.
The president has been making rounds of military camps in Mindanao to rally soldiers amid continuing offensives. --with a report from Reuters and Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News
--with a report from Reuters and Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News