BUTIG, Lanao del Sur -- The Army’s 1st Infantry Division made a symbolic hoisting of the Philippine Flag on Tuesday after it gained full control of the area from an armed group said to be inspired by Islamic State after a 10-day-bloody battle.
Around 5,900 families had been displayed with several houses, schools, government buildings and facilities are left in ruins since the start of the hostility last February 20.
Three soldiers from the government forces were lost with seven wounded during fierce military operations against the terrorist inspired armed group which lost about 24 militants’ death.
Major General Gerrardo Barrientos Jr, division commander of the Army’s 1st Division, commended the soldiers in the field as he led the raising of the Philippine flag right outside the destroyed house of the terror group leaders Abdullah Maute.
“I congratulate our forces for our success here hallmarking another historic event for our armed forces. We have been tested and I’m thankful we came out victorious; we’ve shown the army’s ability in handling this kind of situations. The conflict started last February 20 and now it's March 1, we have resolved the conflict in the fastest possible time,” said Barrientos.
Barrientos pointed out to local the symphatizers that, “my message to our adversary, that never attempt to challenge the legitimacy and the rule of law in this part of the region or else you will feel the strength and capability of the armed forces, we won't think twice in using everything we have so that we could immediately solve the crisis in the fastest possible time."
The general also acknowledged the soldiers who were killed and wounded during the offensive.
“We have soldiers who were wounded, and those who were victims of the incident but it is a sacrifice we make compared to the total effect that we want to be achieved against terrorism who wants to rule over the area in Lanao del Sur,” he said.
Mayor Ibrahim Macadato of Butig expressed his gratitude during the turnover of the village to the local government unit.
“We are thankful that the situation has been resolved which has sown fear and displaced thousands of residents. We hope that those affected and displaced by this conflict would soon be able to return to their homes and hopefully keep a close coordination with our military forces to avoid related incident in the future,” said Macadato.