SOLDIERS fighting members of the Maute Group in Marawi City are also battling other enemies: diseases.
Twenty-five soldiers in the battle zone have been brought down by various diseases such as typhoid, dengue fever and diarrhea, the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said Sunday.
In an interview with reporters, Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Armed Forces’ WestMinCom, said some soldiers acquired dengue fever because mosquitoes have taken over the place. Also, some soldiers were stricken with diarrhea because their source of water was unclean.
“They had fever caused by mosquitoes since it is full of it since the entire city had not been cleaned,” she said. This is also the reason why Marawi residents have not been allowed to go back to their homes.”
Petinglay said the sick soldiers were immediately attended to by military doctors.
“What we are trying to emphasize is that there are situations like that, that could also happen [to the residents and other soldiers]and we are trying to avoid the spread of epidemic too,” she added.
“There are dead dogs all over the area, so there is really a need for us to clean the city first but as of now, we cannot clear it because of the dangers of stray bullets,” Petinglay said.
Once cleared of terrorists, the city will be thoroughly fumigated in coordination with the Department of Health.
To keep soldiers safe, Petinglay said military troops will be given anti-flu vaccines and their food will be prepared “carefully.”
“We are also sending them bottled waters to prevent diarrhea,” she added.
“Everyday, we are meeting different kinds of challenges especially now that we have winning engagements, the fight is getting intense,” Petinglay said.
She added that civilians staying in evacuation centers whose homes are far from the battle area have been encouraged to go home.
“It means that there are an additional 150,000 who are not from Marawi City. Those are the ones we are encouraging to return since their places are far from the battle area,” she explained, adding that the order was made Friday last week.
At least two barangay (villages) with 500 buildings are still being cleared by soldiers.
As of the latest military count, 114 soldiers, 45 civilians and 482 Maute members have been killed in more than two months of fighting.