ILIGAN CITY —– Unlike the past two years, the Marawi siege will not push through because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the last two years, the local government units of Marawi and Lanao del Sur and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) have led the commemoration of the siege with various activities. National government officials attended the events bringing with them assistance for the internally displaced persons.
In fact, the Marawi Week of Peace is officially celebrated starting a week before May 23.
This year, only 25 soldiers attended the wreath laying at 8:00AM, including the two flag bearers and a priest, with their face masks on.
This year, COVID-19 crisis made the third year commemoration of Marawi siege different.
Marawi City is still under general community quarantine which greatly limits people’s freedom of movement. Mass gatherings are still prohibited.
Last year, the wreath laying ceremony took about 30 minutes including prayers for the dead but this year, it only took the Army soldiers of 103rd Infantry Brigade 10 minutes to lay wreath and flowers, and say prayers at the ‘Heroes Wall’ inside the brigade headquarters in Kampo Ranao.
Colonel Jose Maria Cuerpo, 103rd Brigade commander, led the troops as they recalled “the sacrifices of the fallen heroes who fought hard to liberate Marawi City from the clutches of the violent extremists Dawlah Islamiyah – Maute Group who attempted to establish a caliphate in the country”.
Cuerpo was the deputy brigade commander during the siege.
“Despite this novel coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), we have not and will never forget the heroism displayed by our soldiers during the 2017 Marawi siege. I call on the patriotic spirit of all Meranaos to do their part and help maintain the peace we are enjoying today. We were one in this fight, one in the fight against the terror threat in the province,” Cuerpo said.
Some 168 soldiers, police officers and civilians who died in the fight against terrorists during the 153 days of the Marawi Siege.
“Unity is a critical consideration in these trying times as manifested during the Marawi siege where the people and the security sector joined hands in fighting the common enemy. Peace and development can be attained. Nothing is impossible if there is cooperation, understanding, and discipline among us,” Cuerpo stressed.
“Let the Marawi siege be a reminder to every one of the terror and tragedy caused by the terrorists. Rest assured that your Haribon Brigade will do its best and exert all effort to prevent such tragedy to reoccur, and to promote peace and development in the City of Marawi and the province of Lanao del Sur,” he added.
Last year, a banquet was served after the wreath laying but this year, the soldiers immediately dispersed.
“We went back to the office and proceed with our regular office works,” Cuerpo said.