Senator Manny Pacquiao, a reserve officer of the Philippine Army, visited troops in Marawi Saturday morning, July 29.
In his message to the soldiers, Pacman stressed his sadness everytime he hears soldiers and policemen dying in the fight.
"Gusto kong sumama sa inyo sa labanan, gusto nyo ba yun," he told troops. (I want to join you in the fighting, would you like that?)
Huwag kayong sumurrender dahil kumbaga sa boxing, nasa last 3 rounds nalang tayo ngayon at malapit ng matapos," the senator told soldiers in an address. (Don't surrender, because the same as in boxing, we're in the last 3 rounds and it's almost over.)
Pacquiao arrived via private helicopter at the headquarters of the 103rd Brigade in Camp Ranao, wearing the tiger suit of the elite Army Special Forces, a unit that made him an honorary member. Pacquiao's current rank, Lieutenant Colonel, is the rank given to lawmakers.
The senator was welcomed by Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Joint Task Force Marawi ground commander Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Brigadier General Emmanuel B Salamat, Commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao Brigadier General Ramiro Rey and Deputy Commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division Brigadier General Felicisimo Budiongan.
The senator, on his arrival, was briefed by ground commanders on troop morale and the state of the clashes in Marawi City. Pacquaio later shook hands and delivered goods to the troops
The Westmincom Public Information Office told the press that soldiers were "elated for the opportunity to meet the boxing champ."
"We are happy to have the Senator here with us today, it is indeed quite a privilege," said Westmincom Chief Lieutenant General Galvez. "We know our troops on the ground will surely be in high spirits, knowing that Senator Pacquiao took his time out to come and show support to our troops despite his busy schedule."
This marks the 10th week of clashes between troops and local terror groups linked with the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).
The death toll among government forces has reached 114 as of July 27. Up to 471 enemies and 45 civilians have also been recorded killed.
The war is contained in 3 villages in Marawi City – Banggolo, Marinaut, and Raya Madaya – but the military has not allowed residents outside the battle area to return to their homes.
The millitary said the rest of Marawi City has to be cleared of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), dead bodies, and disease-causing viruses.
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