|Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)|
By Michael Punongbayan
MANILA, Philippines — For the first time since the conflict started four months ago, ranking officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines crossed two bridges in Marawi City’s main battle area yesterday as troops moved closer to ending the fight with the Maute terrorist group.
Major Generals Rolando Bautista and Danilo Pamonag, commanders of the Joint Task Force Marawi and Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident, respectively, passed through the Bayabao and Masiu bridges.
The AFP said the bridges were recently recovered and controlled by government forces from the Maute group that placed the Islamic city under siege.
Both commanders were met by Brig. Gen. Melquiades Ordiales, commander of the Joint Task Group Tiger.
Bautista said the act of crossing the bridges showed the significant progress in the effort of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to defeat the enemy, rescue the hostages and regain control of the city.
“The terrorists are now becoming desperate as our soldiers and police are closing in on their defensive positions. We are continuing our appeal to the terrorists to release their hostages and… surrender,” he said.
During his fifth visit to Marawi City last Sept. 21, President Duterte said “the end of the combat operation is just around the corner.”
The commander-in-chief and the AFP gave assurance that once the firefight is over, the daunting task of rehabilitation will proceed in full blast.
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