The Philippine military chief, over the weekend, visited Camp Navarro military hospital in Zamboanga City to award medals to wounded soldiers battling ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi City, Basilan and Zamboanga del Norte.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Ano presented the medals to Staff Sgt. Junifel Pangasian, Sgt. Yusop Nahudan, Sgt. Al-Muktar Sali, Ayatulla Hamid, Private Arjone Bano, Private Mole Icasama, Lito Lalag of the Civilian Active Auxiliary and Charlie Alejandro of the Civilian Volunteers' Organization.
Among those who accompanied Ano were Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi Brig. Custodio Parcon, Jr., and Joint Task Force Zamboanga Col. Leonel Nicolas.
In Marawi City, the ongoing intensive battle has already killed 128 government soldiers, 522 Maute-Abu Sayyaf militants and 45 civilians.
Not only is the casualty high, financially also the battle is drilling a hole into government's pocket. With the battle entering its fifth month, the military has already spent USD 59 million dollars and counting to buy helmets, bullet vests and other warfare support materials.
Around 700 ISIS-inspired militants raided Marawi City on May 23, 2017, and thousands of Philippine soldiers were deployed to battle the militants.
According to militant intelligence, though there are only less than a hundred ISIS militants, occupying two villages, are left, soldiers are approaching with caution as at least 70 civilians are being held as captives in the battle field.