Kampo Ranao holds simple ceremony to remember soldiers killed in Marawi siege
MANILA, Philippines – The 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi held a simple ceremony inside its headquarters in Kampo Ranao on Saturday morning, May 23, to mark the 3rd year since the Marawi siege erupted.
The commander of the brigade, Colonel Jose Maria Cuerpo II, led a wreathlaying ceremony to remember soldiers who died fighting followers of the international jihadist network Islamic State (IS). The names of the soldiers were etched on a Heroes Wall erected inside the camp.
The IS followers were led by their slain emir Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Omar Maute of the Maute Group, who sought to turn Marawi into a caliphate.
The battle lasted 5 months.
"Despite of [the coronavirus pandemic], we have not and will never forget the heroism displayed by our soldiers during the 2017 Marawi Siege," Cuerpo said. He was deputy commander of the brigade during the siege.
After the siege, the military hunted down remnant fighters of the groups involved in the siege. It was confident it had reduced the threat in Marawi but Cuerpo said residents should remain vigilant.
"I call on the patriotic spirit of all Meranaos to do their part and help maintain the peace we are enjoying today. We are one in this fight, one in the fight against this terror threat in the province," Cuerpo said.
Three years after the siege, rehabilitation of the former battle area has not been completed. It has resulted in the prolonged displacement of at least 17,000 Marawi residents who still live in evacuation centers.
Coronavirus compounded the challenges. Rehabilitation work was temporarily stopped except for scall-scale activities such as road construction. (READ: Life doubly hard in Marawi shelters as coronavirus grounds aid groups)
Task Force Bangon Marawi field office manager Felix Castro Jr said their efforts were diverted to support the government's coronavirus response.
On Saturday, Vice President Leni Robredo urged the government to end "3 years of inaction and neglect in Marawi."
Anna Tarhata Basman, a parliament member of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said the new regional government is committed to support the national government rehabilitation efforts.
Basman is the vice chair of a BARMM special committee on Marawi's rehabilitaiton. – Rappler.com