As the Philippines will observe her 119th independence day on June 12, the country's military, for the first time, will celebrate the by raising the nation's flag in the battle zone of Marawi where thousands of Philippine foot soldiers engaged a fierce battle with 400 heavily armed terrorists.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it is expected to liberate Marawi City from the terrorists' hold by June 12. AFP Spokesman General, Restituto Padilla, said that as they are expecting the war in Marawi would end in June 12, Mindanao will still be under the state of Martial Law because there are still other terrorists in some parts of the city.
June 12 is a holiday in the Philippines to allow Filipinos to commemorate their independence from foreign colonizers.
At the height of the on-going three-week-long battle, Philippines foot soldiers noted black flags hoisted in different structures with ISIS-like designs and soldiers, together with the Philippine marines, removed those flags while scouring the battle zone.
On Friday, the Philippines military continued to pound aerial strikes on rebel positions while the army continue to rain enemy positions with machine guns. Another a team of soldiers also conducted door to door search and destroy operations.
"The soldiers were gaining headway as offensives against the terrorists' strongholds continue," Padilla was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Padilla also said that by June 12, when the Philippines will be celebrating independence day, people can freely wave the Philippine flags in every street of Marawi City. The Philippine military earlier announced that the war would end by June 2 but later moved their target to June 12 to coincide with the Philippine's independence day.
Padilla further said that the three-week battle has cost the lives of many terrorists, soldiers and civilians and it will be over soon. However, some people expressed pessimism by saying that there are still terrorists hiding in their strongholds.