MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military issued a statement honoring the heroism of soldiers slain in Marawi City as Filipinos trooped to cemeteries nationwide to remember dead loved ones.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla condoled with the widows and orphans of 165 government forces who gave their lives to liberate the city from armed groups linked with international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).
“The commemoration of All Souls Day this year becomes doubly significant for the widows, orphans and families of 158 AFP and 7 PNP warrior heroes who died in Marawi during the siege of the city by Daesh-inspired rebels.” Padilla said.
Padilla honored Captain Rommel Sandoval of the Army Scout Rangers, the highest-ranking officer to die in Marawi. Sandoval was rescuing one of his men when he was hit by enemy snipers. (READ: How an Army captain died saving his soldier’s life in Marawi)
“Captain Sandoval left behind a wife who was anxiously waiting for a long overdue vacation abroad with her husband. She will instead stand vigil at the LIbingan Ng Mga Bayani this Undas,” said Padilla.
Padilla also remembered the sacrifice of Second Lieutenant Harold Mark Juan of the Army Special Forces. He was wounded but chose to return to the battle area. He was killed by sniper fire in the final days of the war.
“Juan was killed by sniper fire, leaving his fiancé behind whom he promised to marry once he goes back from Marawi,” said Padilla.
Juan appeared in Rappler’s video report “Final Push: Inside the Marawi battle area.” At 4:32 in the report, the young officer is seen in action inside the battle area, analyzing a map of the terrain.
“We would commemorate their sacrifices and honor each of our fallen heroes who fought not only in Marawi, but in various places in the country, this All Souls Day,” Padilla said.
According to the Padilla, the successful military campaign in Marawi “was the longest operation of the Philippine military in over 4 decades.”
Watch Rappler’s documentary on Marawi below.