MARAWI CITY -- The 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has left, Friday morning, October 20, after a send-off ceremony held in Camp Ranao in this city.

A Silver Cross Medal was awarded to the battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus and to his three company commanders.

The unit as a whole was also commended with a plaque of appreciation for the job well done during the almost five months of battle against the Islamic State-inspired fighters who laid siege in this predominantly Islamic city last May 23.

In his message, Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao commander Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., said the troops maintained the highest dignity as soldiers while serving the people of Marawi.

“As much as we want to have you here, we need to let you go. Our oath is to serve the people and maintain the integrity of our country,” Galvez said.

The unit was among the first battalions to arrive in Marawi City during the early stage of the fighting.

Its troops were able to rescue 34 hostages from Isis-inspired extremists and recovered assorted high powered firearms.

“I laud the men and women of the 1st Infantry Battalion for their dedicated service and for being here at the onset of the Marawi siege. My gratitude to you for a job well done,” said Major General Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi in his message.

Before they boarded their military vehicles, the soldiers’ bags were inspected to help dispel talk that soldiers were involved in the looting houses inside the main battle area.