PH military chief Año visits Marawi's main battle zone

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año went to the main battle zone in Marawi City on Wednesday, August 2, to check the situation on the ground and boost the morale of troops.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, Año visited troops stationed only 300 meters away from the most forward position of the military in the battle zone, according to an officer who was there with the AFP chief.

It was a position held by the Scout Rangers, the unit that Año belongs to.

The AFP chief's presence boosted the morale of troops, said the source.

"Kahit hindi na siya magsalita. Na-inspire ang tropa (He didn't even need to speak. He inspired the troops with his mere presence)," the source said.

The visit came as clashes with local terror groups linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) entered the 3rd month. More than a hundred soldiers and 500 terrorists have been killed.

Año was accompanied by Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez and 1st Infantry Division chief and Marawi City ground commander Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, confirmed Año's visit to the main battle zone.

"I went here to inspire you. But you were the ones who inspired me instead," Arevalo quoted Año as telling the troops.

Arevalo said commanders on the ground also briefed Año on their plans for the final phase of the military operation in Marawi City. 

"General Año was given a comprehensive situation update on the ongoing operation in Marawi. They gave him a detailed presentation on the courses of action they have planned for the final phase of the military operation," said Arevalo. 

Año and other top Philippine security officials have repeatedly flown to Marawi City, but previously only visited the brigade headquarters or the provincial capitol located about two kilometers from the war zone.

The crisis in Marawi City had prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao for 60 days beginning May 23. The President's declaration was later extended by Congress until December 31. –