MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte made his second visit to a military camp in Marawi City on Friday, August 4, to speak to government troops on the frontline of the fight against terrorists.
Duterte arrived in Camp Kilala in Marawi at around 5 pm on Friday. He stayed for around an hour, talking to soldiers, visiting those wounded in battle, and entertaining requests for selfies.
The President returned to Marawi to "boost morale," according to a Palace official.
"I have to be here because I want all of you to know that...I love all of you. I hope you will be able to clean up Marawi City and get rid of the terrorists," the Palace quoted Duterte as saying in a press release.
Photos sent by Malacañang show Duterte surrounded by soldiers, several of whom were holding out their smart phones in hopes of getting a photo of themselves with their commander-in-chief.
Judging by the pictures, Duterte did manage to put a smile on soldiers' faces.
The President also visited wounded soldiers lying on stretchers to recuperate from their injuries.
Accompanying Duterte in Marawi were Armed Forces Chief General Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
As Duterte left the military camp, soldiers gathered outside to bid him goodbye with their closed fists held up, a gesture associated with Duterte. If that wasn't enough, the President would have surely gotten their message from a sign they also held up which read, "Thank you, sir."
The first time Duterte visited Marawi in the middle of fighting was last July 20, after two failed attempts.
The Armed Forces has since reported some progress made, with most of the fighting now contained in two villages and a critical bridge recovered from the control of terrorists. As of August 4, 522 terrorists have been killed.
There are an estimated 80 to 100 hostages still in the hands of terrorists. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.