TACLOBAN CITY— After five months of fighting terrorists in Marawi City, about 100 soldiers under the Army’s 82nd Reconnaissance Company finally returned to Eastern Visayas Sunday afternoon.
Joined by family members, Col. Alberto Desoyo and 8th Infantry Division staff led in welcoming the soldiers.
Desoyo personally lauded the soldiers for their contribution to free Marawi City from the clutches of the ISIS-inspired Maute group.
“Our debt to our soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country to preserve our security and freedom in Marawi can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. Eastern Visayas and the entire country will never forget their sacrifices,” Desoyo said.
The troops will undergo a debriefing process, he added.
Most of the family members went to the city’s airport hours before the scheduled troops’ arrival.
Michelle Berongoy, wife of Private First Class Ronnie Berongoy, said there were many sleepless nights when her husband was in Marawi especially and communicating with him was very hard. All she did was to pray that her husband would return alive.
“I’m happy that he’s again with us and safe. I’m very thankful to God,” Michelle told reporters.
Berongoy said he is happy to see his family almost five months after being deployed to the frontline of the battleground.
“We will have to discuss it first with the troops what are we going to do, but if we will be given a break, I want to spend it with my family,” the soldier added.
Mary Joyce Balita, a 33-year-old teacher from Taft, Eastern Samar, took a video recording of the plane’s arrival where Corporal Jome Balita was on board.
“I cried every day, hoping and waiting for my husband to come home safely,” said Mary Joyce, who was accompanied by five of their children.
“We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment today, but I couldn’t stop thinking of some families that weren’t reunited because the head of their family perished during the war. We are very lucky,” she told reporters.
Before their deployment in Marawi City, the 82nd Reconnaissance Company was assigned to secure the area covered in Leyte province by the 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) earlier sent to fight the Abu Sayyaf group in Mindanao.
Aside from the 82nd Reconnaissance Company, the Army’s 62nd Infantry Batallion was also sent to Marawi to help retake the city from the hands of the Maute group.
The 62nd IB is also expected to return to Eastern Visayas to augment the remaining forces of the Philippine Army in securing the region from the influence of the New People’s Army. Desoyo is still unsure of the 62nd IB’s date of return to the region.