MANILA — The Philippine Navy (PN) has spent nearly half a billion pesos for ammunition and fuel during the five-month battle to remove the Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.
This was emphasized by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado during the sidelights of the welcoming ceremonies for the returning Fleet-Marine contingent held in Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Monday.
“Well, as far as the PN is concerned, just for the ammunition (and fuel) alone we nearly extended half a billion pesos and just imagine the number of trips this year undertook to bring all our AFP combat vehicles, artillery, ammunition and people from all over the different islands down to Iligan and the fuel for our helicopters,” he said.
Also, Mercado said that he is more than satisfied with the PN’s combat performance in the Marawi City campaign.
“Very, very satisfied if the President is satisfied with the performance of the AFP, I am more than satisfied with the performance of our sailors and marines,” he added.
Mercado also pointed out that it was the Philippine Marines Corps who recaptured three important bridges — Mapandi, Banggolo and Masiu — in the Marawi City campaign.
The PN chief added that regaining control of these bridges allowed the government to deploy more troops and combat vehicles in the main battle area.
The returning contingent’s size is estimated to be around 500 to 600 personnel and consists of marines, sailors, aviators and “Seals” deployed in Marawi City during the height of the battle.
These personnel were transported from Iligan City to Manila by the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), one of the two brand-new strategic sealift vessels of the PN.
After the ceremony honoring them, members of the Fleet-Marine contingent were transported via motorcade from Pier 13 to their headquarters in Marine Base Rudiardo Brown in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
During the motorcade, the PN’s AgustaWestland AW-109 combat utility helicopters dropped flowers on the procession to honor the victorious troops.
Around 920 Maute Group terrorists were killed in the five-month campaign that started last May 23 when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.
In the fierce fighting that followed, around 165 government troops were killed including 35 marines.