Military commanders cross retaken bridges in Marawi

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Military officers at a re-taken bridge. HANDOUT PHOTO FROM WESTERN MINDANAO COMMAND

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Two key field generals in the retaking of this Islamic city from Maute-led terrorists on Sunday crossed for the first time since the start of the May 23 siege two strategic bridges, marking what authorities called a significant turn in the military campaign.

At 10:00am Sunday (September 24, 2017), Major Generals Rolando Bautista and Danilo Pamonag, Commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi and Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident respectively, crossed the Bayabao Bridge and the Masui Bridge. These bridges were recently recovered and controlled by government forces from the Maute Terrorist Group that lay siege over this Islamic City. The two commanders were met on the other end of the bridge by Brigadier General Melquiades Ordiales, the Commander of the Joint Task Group Tiger.

According to Major General Bautista, this is a significant progress in the effort of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to defeat the terrorists, rescue the hostages, and regain control of the whole city. “The terrorists are now becoming desperate as our soldiers and police are closing in on their defensive positions. We are continuing our appeal to the terrorists to release their hostsges and for them to surrender,” Major General Bautista added.

As of the 125th day since the siege started, 151 soldiers and police have paid the ultimate sacrifice while 694 terrorists have been killed.

During his fifth visit to Marawi City last September 21, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said that “the end of the combat operation is just around the corner”. Once the firefight is over, the daunting task of rehabilitation will proceed full blast.