• UPDATE: Duterte visits Marawi amid ongoing fighting

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    AFTER two failed attempts, President Rodrigo Duterte finally visited Marawi City on Thursday to check on troops at the frontlines of the government’s battle against Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists.

    This was confirmed by Malacañang, but provided no details of the President’s trip.

    In a media interview after the visit, Lt. Col. Jo-Al Herrera, Joint Task Force Marawi spokesman, said Duterte arrived at the headquarters of the 103rd brigade at around 3 p.m and received a briefing from military officials deployed in the area.

    He said the President briefly talked to the troops and thanked them for their hard work.

    “Nagpapasalamat siya dahil sa heroism and sacrifices ng ating mga kasundaluhan despite the challenges na hinaharap ng ating mga kasundaluhan dito,” Herrera told reporters.

    [He (Duterte) thanked the troops for their heroism and sacrifices despite the challenges they faced in the urban battle]

    He said Duterte’s visit boosted the morale of the troops, who received goods and watches from him.

    “Alam natin na si Pangulo ay talagang malapit siya sa ating mga sundalo at ito’y talagang nag boost sa fighting spirit ng ating mga kasundaluhan at siya ay talagang very supportive dito sa atin,” Herrera said.

    (We all know that the President is close to the soldiers and this is a boost to their fighting spirit and he has been very supportive of us.)

    Duterte has said he had been visiting military camps in recent weeks to make sure that the morale of government troops was high.

    The President had tried twice to visit Marawi, but both trips did not push through because of bad weather.

    Malacañang said that Duterte had wanted to visit Marawi City so the affected families and the security troops would feel that “the government is behind them and the President has never left Marawi.”

    Thousands of Maranaos remain displaced after Islamic State-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups laid siege to Marawi City in a bid to establish a wilaya (province) for IS fighters in the southern Philippines.

    As of July 19, the government has reported the deaths of 45 civilians, 421 Islamist militants, and 99 government forces amid the continuing armed conflict in Marawi.

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