Soldiers and policemen are ‘clearing’the besieged city of Marawi and cleaning the streets and every mosque laid waste by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group terrorists.
In a statement on Monday, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said around 80 soldiers and policemen are armed with other “weapons” instead of rifles.
Government security forces have been wielding broomsticks, grass cutters, bolos and paint brushes while roaming the city streets, which the military has declared “clear” of lawless elements.
Galvez said the street-cleaning activity, initiated by Joint Task Force Tabang and dubbed as Kapalimpiyo tano ko Kalilintad (Let’s Clean for Peace) was held in Barangay Emie, Matampay, Sarimanok, Marawi and Malalat.
“These activities intend to prepare the area for the upcoming return of the evacuees to their respective homes.
We hope the clean-up will somehow alleviate how they feel when they go back to a place which was torn by war and fighting,” he added.
Galvez reiterated that uniformed troops will “continually” be involved in any clearing operation, even if the three-month old war has ended.
“We know that people are already asking when they can come back to their homes. We hope they will understand that their soldiers and policemen are doing their best to end the fighting soonest so that they can finally go home,” he said.
But Brig. Gen. Joselito Bautista, Joint Task Force Marawi commander, said that the clean-up will focus next on the mosques within the main battle area in the city.
This initiative will “immediately cater to Moslem believers” once ground commanders and troops gave the green light for the evacuees and displaced persons to return to their respective homes inside the war-torn city.
Religious icons including mosques were also cleaned by around 15 policemen and a team of soldiers who also did minor repairs in the Saad Huzam Almusairi Masjid located within Lilod village.
The fighting in Marawi has been going on since May 23 and martial law is still in place not only in Marawi but in the entire Mindanao after Congress passed a resolution approving President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration extending it until the end of the year.
As of the latest military count, at least 583 Maute terrorists have been killed in and 640 firearms have been seized by military forces.
According to military reports, 129 soldiers and 45 civilians have been killed by the extremists while rescued civilians number 1,728.