PAMPANGA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on members of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to continue fulfilling their mandate despite the end of armed conflict in Marawi City.
During the PAF change-of-command and retirement rites in honor of Lieutenant General Edgar Fallorina, Duterte reminded the troops to remain vigilant of potential terror threats, especially after security forces were able to regain control of the southern city.
"I enjoin our troops to continue performing their duties well, especially as the martial law remains in effect in Mindanao, and there are persisting threats of terrorism and [insurgency]," the President said in a speech he delivered here in Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana announced Monday that the crisis in Marawi City has finally ended after troops successfully neutralized the remaining Islamic State-inspired extremists in the beleaguered city.
Prior to this, Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi on October 17 following the deaths of terror frontrunners Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, who led the nearly five-month siege in Marawi.
Hapilon, who was believed to be IS top honcho in Southeast Asia, connived with Maute extremists and stormed the southern city on May 23 in an effort to build a new enclave for IS group in Southeast Asia.
The President, in a bid to counter the insurgency, declared martial law in the entire Mindanao, which will lapse on December 31, 2017.
Duterte earlier said he was not inclined to lift the martial law in Mindanao despite the recently-concluded Marawi siege that claimed the lives of over 1,000 individuals, including hundreds of security troops.
He extolled the troops' gallantry to risk their lives just to keep the country "safer and more secure."
He likewise praised their "invaluable contributions" that paved the way for reducing extremism, as well as criminality, and corruption that served as long-standing problems of the country.
"You have left your families and the comfort of your homes to serve the country is truly praiseworthy. Indeed, the Philippines and our people are indebted to you because of the sacrifices you have made every single day," the President said.
"We have made significant headway in ridding the country of the scourges of criminality, insurgency, terrorism, and corruption because of your invaluable contributions and there could never be a task more ennobling than that," he added.
While the martial law is still in effect, Duterte urged the troops to remain faithful to their sworn duty to serve and protect the country from any security threats.
"May you always stay faithful to the Constitution and the people whom you have sworn to protect. Truly, you have made our country safer and more secure," Duterte said. (SunStar Philippines)