Unlike the past two years, commemorating the anniversary of the Marawi siege this year is different because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, led the troops as they remembered “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 “Wilayat” in the country”.
He was the deputy brigade commander during the siege.
“Despite this coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, 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 are one in this fight, one in the fight against this terror threat in the province,” Cuerpo said Saturday.
In the last two years, the local government units of Marawi and Lanao del Sur and the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) led the commemoration of the siege with various and grand activities.
National government officials attended the events, bringing with them assistance to the internally displaced persons.
In fact, the Marawi Week of Peace was previously celebrated starting a week before May 23.
This year, only 25 soldiers attended the wreath laying at 8 a.m. Saturday, including the two flag bearers and a priest with their face masks on.
Marawi City is still imposing general community quarantine that makes the people’s movement limited. Mass gathering is still prohibited.
Last year, wreath laying ceremony took about 30 minutes including the saying of the prayers to the dead. But this year, it only took the Army soldiers of the 103rd Infantry Brigade 10 minutes to lay wreaths and flowers and recite the prayers at the ‘Heroes Wall’ inside the brigade headquarters in Kampo Ranao.
There were 168 soldiers and police officers and a number of civilians who died in the fight against terrorists during the 153-day 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 added.
“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 said.
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(ed) with our regular office work,” Cuerpo said.
Source: Philippines News Agency