AS THE country commemorated the 119th Philippine Independence Monday, June 12, troopers in Negros Occidental joined the nation in mourning the deaths of the soldiers killed in the clash between government forces and Maute group in Marawi City.
Colonel Eliezer Lozañes, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Murcia town, said that flags in all military camps were flown at half-mast as a tribute to the fallen troopers.
“Every time we have a casualty, flags are placed on half-mast,” he said.
Negrense Staff Sergeant Joseph Villanueva of the 15th Infantry Battalion was among the 11 killed in a government airstrike in Marawi City.
READ: 11 soldiers killed in airstrikes in Marawi
Villanueva, who hailed from Barangay Puso, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, was accorded arrival honors when his remains arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airport last June 3.
As of Sunday, 58 government troops have reportedly been killed in battles with Maute members who attacked Marawi City on May 23 to establish a Caliphate.
The death toll on the government side rose to 58 after 13 Marines died in a gun battle with the extremists in Lilot Mandaya village on June 9.
The government also confirmed that 20 civilians and 138 Islamist fighters have been killed.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Palace had requested television networks and radio station to air the salute at 12 p.m. Monday.
Abella said the tribute aimed to recognize the fallen soldiers who courageously fought to quell rebellion, as well as for innocent people who were killed in the ongoing clashes in the besieged city.
“Today, as the nation observes Independence Day, we will pay homage to the fallen soldiers of Marawi. The names of brave soldiers who died fighting in Marawi City will be flashed on TV and read over the radio, with the sound of taps, at 12 noon as a tribute to their heroism for making the ultimate sacrifice for the flag and the country we dearly love,” Abella said.
“We would likewise remember all the innocent victims who perished as a result of rebel atrocities committed,” he added. (MPE with reports from SunStar Philippines)