WE must salute the Philippine Army, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for a job well done in Marawi.
Thanks to the courage, stamina, restraint and compassion of a professional army, the end has come with the terrorists fully defeated in their plans for Marawi and we hope, the rest of Mindanao, maybe the entire country.
It has cost the army blood, sweat and tears. It has cost the relatives of the slain and the wounded, pain and sorrow from irreparable loss. Indeed, they have emerged worthy of our appreciation and acclaim.
After five months of fightixng an urban guerrilla war which is a difficult and can be devastating in terms of cost, we have tales of heroism, honesty, care for those caught in the crossfire like the hostages and civilians.
Remember the millions of pesos in cold cash found and retrieved with nary a hint of theft and pilfering? Think of the hostages saved by restraint and the courage to take them out safely. Think of how escapees among hostages and civilians were met halfway by soldiers and taken to safe ground at the soldiers’ risk. Think of the women soldiers wearing hijab who came as angels rather than spitfires to console women and take care of children. What a sight in the midst of a war. This is almost a first in modern-day fighting.
I have never been more impressed by the Armed Forces as in their conduct during this siege. So far, nary a report of human rights abuses, unnecessary violence, or indifference to the plight of refugees, hostages, even the terrorists themselves. The terrorists have time and again been offered to save themselves by surrendering.
I do not say there were no mistakes, I say that in general it was how it should have been under the circumstances.
The officers in the Marawi siege were there with their boots on the ground together with their soldiers. Gen. Rolando Bautista, the overall commander, has been cited meritoriously. I remember Gen. Galvez and Col. Brawner being among their soldiers in the field. There were others surely that the media missed, they are all to be thanked for bravery, for stamina, for sheer professionalism.
It seems there is better morale, more pride, more accomplishment from the Armed Forces these days. The professionalism is reflected in the spokesmen that have given us day-to-day accounts of what is happening, how it is being handled and why. They have been inspiring and reassuring.
Also, unlike in the past soldiers have been given the resources to fight the battle. There has been no reports of their not being fed or experiencing any lack of support like timely medical care, proper equipment, or having to fend for themselves. It seems a new and organized system has been put in place for the army to do necessary battle, something that was not so emphatically clear in decades past when troops had to scavenge because they were left with no resources in the battlefield.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is one of the best Cabinet members. Laconic in words, eloquent in deeds. He leads by example. Gen. Eduardo Año, the Armed Forces Chief, is self-effacing but effective. As a team, and we include here besides the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard, whoever participated in the Marawi battle. They have given us comfort and assurance and pride in the armed services. We have to appreciate their efforts to protect the Republic. I can only add my voice to all those now expressing gratitude and admiration for what they have demonstrated in Marawi.
As a citizen seeing the above from a distance, I see an educated, modern, well-trained army. It seems we have come to a new day where troops are expert, disciplined and approachable, displaying remarkable courage and patriotism and regard for their fellow citizens as they lay their lives on the line to save the republic.
Mabuhay ang AFP!