ARMY 1st Lieutenant Kent Fagyan expressed his gratitude and that of his fellow soldiers to Congress for the ongoing assistance they were receiving because they feel that they were not alone in fighting the Islamist extremists in Marawi City.
At the same time, Fagyan admitted that the enemies in Marawi were “more difficult to fight” than those he faced during the siege in Zamboanga in September 2013.
“And gusto ko pong, in behalf po sa mga kasamahan ko na lumalaban pa sa Marawi, nagpapasalamat po kami sa patuloy na pagtulong niyo sa amin. Kasi nararamdaman po namin hindi po kami nag-iisa na lumalaban sa kanila,” Fagyan told a special joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives deliberating on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law until the end of 2017.
(And I want to, in behalf of my colleagues who are fighting in Marawi, we are thankful for the continuous help that you have been giving us because we feel that we are not alone in fighting them.)
“Sa kaunting pagbigay niyo sa amin ng mga damit, tubig, malaking tulong na po iyon sa amin kasi doon po sa loob, hindi ka kasi makakain nang tamang oras, hindi ka makatulog nang…kasi palagi kang magising. Putok dito, putok doon simula umaga hanggang gabi, almost 24 hours…lalo nung first week. So iyon po ‘yung sa amin na mga sundalo. Kahit po na ganoon ‘yung nararanasan namin is ginagawa po namin ‘yung tungkulin namin. Iyon lang po,” he said.
(What you have been giving us – clothes, water – have been a big help to us because we don’t eat on time, we can’t sleep . . . we are always awake. All we hear is gunfire from morning till midnight, almost 24 hours, especially during the first week. So that is what we soldiers have been experiencing. But despite all these, we are doing our duty. That is all.)
(In just giving us clothes, water, that is already a big help for us because in there, you cannot eat on time, sleep…because you always wake up. Shots are fired here and there from morning until the evening, almost 24 hours…especially during the first week. So that is all for us soldiers. Even if that is what we are experiencing, we are doing our duty. That is all.)
Fagyan also said that the battle in Marawi was more difficult than the siege in Zamboanga where he was a platoon leader of the 44th Infantry Battalion.
“So, comparing sa mga previous encounters with the Maute group dito sa Marawi, upgraded po ‘yung dito sa Marawi kasi meron na po silang, marami po silang .50 caliber, ‘yung radio frequency scanner, may drones tapos parang unlimited po ‘yung bala nila,” Fagyan said.
(So, comparing with previous encounters, the Maute group here in Marawi has a lot of .50 calibers, radio frequency scanners, drones and unlimited bullets.)
“For additional information po, kasama din po ako sa Zamboanga siege when I was a platoon leader ng 44th Infantry Battalion. So comparing po doon, mas mahirap po ‘yung sa Marawi…halos maraming third floor and fourth floor ‘yung mga bahay,” he said.
(For additional information, I was also in the Zamboanga siege where I was a platoon leader of the 44th Infantry Battalion. So compared to that, Marawi was more difficult…the houses have third and fourth floors.)
Fagyan said that he also fought with the Maute when it occupied Poblacion Butig in Lanao del Sur and raised an Islamic State flag in 2016.
Fagyan, who was wounded on his right arm in the ongoing fighting in Marawi, was among the soldiers who have faced the Maute terrorists, considered largely responsible for the attacks in the city that have displaced thousands and killed over 100 since May 23.
The siege in Zamboanga started in September 9, 2013 when about 200 rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction led by Nur Misuari stormed into Zamboanga City in boats and took over several coastal villages, triggering a standoff between government forces and the rebels who held civilians hostage.
The assault, apparently aimed at thwarting a government peace plan with another separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), paralyzed the city of over a million residents, razed 10,000 homes and reduced 30 to 40 hectares of once-thriving communities to rubble.
On Sept. 13, President Benigno Aquino 3rd flew to Zamboanga City to take direct command of military operations, with about 4,500 soldiers and policemen deployed to the city to crush Misuari’s deadly attempt to derail a final peace agreement between the government and the MILF.
For 10 days, the President was reportedly in Zamboanga City to oversee military operations against the rebels.
On Sept. 28, after three weeks of fighting, then defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin declared that the government had accomplished its mission to free all the MNLF hostages but that the government had yet to complete house-to-house clearing operations 20 days after the rebel assault.
The fighting left about 218 dead and hundreds more wounded. Over 100,000 residents fled to evacuation centers.