In a move hailed as a triumph over terrorism, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made his seventh visit to Marawi City on October 17, 2017 to declare the city's liberation from terrorists after five months of battles with government forces.
In his speech, the President commended the military and police who risked their lives fighting the terror threats. He also announced that the liberation of Marawi marks the start of the rehabilitation process of the war-torn city. The President then led the distribution of groceries, watches and sunglasses while he also awarded pistols to the government troops.
The declaration, made in Marawi itself, came a day after the death of the terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, leaders of the 300-strong Maute terror group which pledged allegiance to the islamic State or ISIS. Their bodies were recovered and set for immedate burial in accordance with Islamic observances.
This same group launched an attack against Marawi's residents, taking scores hostage following the attempted arrest of one of its members on drug allegations last May 23, 2017. This attack prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 Marawi residents and forced an armed government response along with the declaration of martial law on the entire island of Mindanao which continues to this day.
Joining the President during the visit are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, Philippine Army Commander MGen. Rolando Bautista, Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. with reports from PCOO/PHOTOS BY ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO