MARAWI City–Two years after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from the influence of the terrorists, former commander of the now-dissolved Joint Task Force Marawi that oversaw the military operation to liberate the city, remembered the soldiers and policemen who sacrificed their lives to fight the terrorists who attacked the Islamic City.
Wearing a white barong and black pants, Retired Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, former commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) that has jurisdiction over western Mindanao including Marawi City, performed a snappy salute to pay tribute to their fallen comrades on Thursday, October 17, inside the headquarters of 103rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army in Camp Ranao, Marawi City.
Galvez now heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
He was stood side-by-side with another retired Army general, Eduardo del Rosario who is now the housing secretary and chairman of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) that oversees the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi City after it was destroyed by the five-month war against the Dawlah Islamiya-inspired Maute group.
The war claimed more than a thousand lives including more than a hundred soldiers and policeman.
Remembering the fallen
Galvez and Del Rosario led other government officials in laying a white wreath in front of a mounted metal plaque containing the names of those who perished during the five-month war to liberate Marawi.
The former chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Galvez bent over, read the names of the soldiers and ran over his fingers on the metal plate recalling how he personally monitored and guided them as former chief of the WestMinCom.
“This is the time to remember their names one by one. I remember the time how they fought and how they died,” Galvez said in the interview after the ceremony.
“I remember every name [of] those who sacrificed for the liberation of Marawi. This is one of the many ways that we can show to the people that we will always remember them,” he added.
Galvez said it was bothering for him that time every time he sent his men to battle saying “losing 126 people is something you can never forget”.
“In hindsight, I would like tell the people that this is the way…how soldiers [had] to give up their lives just to liberate Marawi from the clutches of terrorism. That's the oath of the soldier and that we are ready to die for our country and for our people,” a solemn Galvez said.
Retired Brigadier General Felicisimo Budiongan, who also took part in the wreath laying ceremony, said the most emotional part in the siege was receiving report from the ground that another soldier died “because I could see the grief of a wife, a son, a daughter and relatives”, he said.
Budiongan, now an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), was the commander of Task Group Bakal, a team of soldiers from the Mechanized Division, during the five-month war.
“But the most significant in our operation was the neutralization of IH and Omar because it signaled the end of the sufferings of the soldiers in Marawi,” Budiongan said referring to Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute who led the attack. The two were killed early dawn of October 16 in 2017.