PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte gave 129 soldiers who died fighting terrorists in Marawi City a posthumous recognition on Monday, National Heroes’ Day.
Leading the national celebrations at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, the President bestowed upon the fallen soldiers the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Kalasag Rank in recognition of the courage and gallantry of the soldiers who lost their lives to fight terrorism and ensure the safety of the people in Mindanao.
“Today, we confer the Order of Lapu-Lapu [on]individuals who rendered extraordinary service to our country. Of utmost significance are the fallen heroes of Marawi, of Jolo, Sulu and in other places in the country fighting terrorism and subversion of the New People’s Army and the ISIS-Maute terror groups in Lanao. I cannot thank them enough for their valuable service to our nation, and we shall forever be in [their]debt,” Duterte said.
The posthumous award for each soldier—handed out by President Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año—was received by the next of kin.
The soldiers who died in Marawi City were young, at between 21 and 30 years old.
“As we further our efforts to build a stronger, peaceful, and more secure nation, we count on our people to emulate the patriotism of our heroes so that we may all prevail against the looming threats of criminality, terrorism and [illegal]drugs,” Duterte said.
The May 23 attack on Marawi City by Islamic State-linked Maute group terrorists forced Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
On July 22, Congress extended the President’s martial law declaration until the end of the year, banking on the President’s word that he needed more time to suppress the rebellion led by the Maute group and joined in by the Abu Sayyaf, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.