MANILA, Philippines – After failing twice, President Rodrigo Duterte was finally able to set foot in war-torn Marawi on Thursday, July 20.
Duterte, who was in full army fatigue, reached the Lanao del Sur capital at 3 p.m. on board a helicopter.
He talked to troops from the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade stationed at Camp Ranao and was given update on the ongoing operations at the tactical command post of Joint Task Force Marawi.
The President entered Marawi as the troops were launching assault from the other end of Mapandi Bridge, the site of one of the fiercest gun battles in downtown Marawi between the military and the Maute Group.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año, who was with the President in Marawi, said the visit took place “amid the sound of gun and artillery fires on the background.”
While Duterte’s visit was successful and memorable for the troops, the AFP chief said it was not easy as shots started coming in at the area where the helicopter carrying the President and his party was supposed to land.
Besides Año, the President was also accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Presidential Adviser for Military Affairs Undersecretary Arthur Tabaquero, and Philippine Army commander Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.