Marawi folk, soldiers raise PH flag with heavy hearts

By: Inquirer.net June 12,2017 - 11:00 PM

The Philippine flag was hoisted at the Rizal Park on Independence Day. A separate flag-raising ceremony was also held at the Marawi City Hall grounds led by Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra.
/Inquirer

MARAWI CITY — The singing of the Philippine national anthem was somber as the flag was raised at the Marawi City hall on Monday morning — the day the country celebrated the 119th anniversary of its Independence Day.

“We sing with a heavy heart today because our city is not yet safe,” said a city employee who would not give out her name, as she wiped away her tears.

The flag-raising ceremony at the city hall, led by Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra, was attended by mainly soldiers in full battle gear.

It took place around 8 a.m., shortly after OV-10 planes ended their six-hour bomb run.

Starting at 2 a.m., at least three OV-10 bombers took turns in dropping bombs into parts of the city, where the Maute Group had maintained positions since May 23.

“Malungkot sir (I feel so sad),” said a soldier introducing himself only as Sergeant Oliver.

He said he was sad because of the many soldiers killed or wounded in the firefight against the Maute Group — which entered its 20th day Monday.

Fifty-eight government troops have since died and dozens others have been wounded. The official civilian death toll was at 20, but there were reports more people have died in the 20-day conflict.

Amid the military’s claim that troops had continued to gain foothold into the city, military casualties rose by the day.

The Maute Group also continued to defy the advancing troops, with snipers firing their guns towards areas deemed safe like the capitol compound.
On Sunday evening, sniper fire bullets hit the roof of the gymnasium at the provincial capitol, but no one was hurt.

“We’re risking our lives every day. We’re still not free from the Maute, that’s why I’m in pain,” the city hall employee said.

Over at the provincial capitol, Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong was holding back his tears as he spoke after the flag-raising ceremony — where some provincial employees were also seen shedding tears.

“Please be patient, my Maranao brothers and sisters. We will eventually reclaim Marawi if we work together,” Adiong said in the Maranao dialect.
He said Maranaos should also seek Allah’s help to bring back peace in the city — considered as the center of the Maranao culture and history.

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