Heroes’ Welcome

Scout Rangers who helped liberate Marawi return home

MORE than 200 members of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion (2SRB) were accorded with Hero’s Welcome yesterday at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan as they returned to the city after five months of fighting against the Maute-ISIS terrorist group in Marawi City.

 The activity started with 2SRB members marching from the Tactical Operation’s Group (TOG) XI going to Camp Panacan Station. They received roses and warmed welcome from their families, friends and supporters.

 Together with the battalion commander, there were 212 personnel – 18 officers and 194 enlisted men – who arrived in the city Wednesday night after helping the liberation of Marawi City. Of the figure, 125 soldiers were wounded. Nine 2SRB members were killed in action.

During the ceremony yesterday, Benito De Leon, a retired army general who heads the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), welcomed the soldiers in behalf of the city government.

 In his speech, de Leon said he is expecting a more secure city with the presence of the heroes from Marawi City.

 Upon arrival in the city, the 2SRB soldiers are placed anew under the operational control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom).

 The 2SRB – originally under the command of the Philippine Army’s Special Operation Command based in Bulacan – was detailed in EastMinCom before they were send to Sulu last August to fight the Abu Sayyaf group.

 When the Marawi crisis broke, they were deployed to the area to fight the Maute-ISIS group.

In an interview yesterday at the sidelines of the activity, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, EastMinCom spokesperson, said the 2SRB can be assigned anywhere in the region if their presence is needed.

 “Their assignment is not just particular in Davao region but they can also be deployed in Caraga or in Region XII,” Balagtey said. Parts of Caraga and Soccsksargen are under EastMinCom.

 Balagtey said the soldiers already underwent stress debriefing in Marawi City before their return.

 However, the soldiers can further go stress debriefing if there is a need.

 For now, Balagtey said the soldiers need rest.

 “We will give them rest,” he said.

 In a recent interview with Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of EastMinCom’s 10th Infantry Division, said the 2SRB, together with the two other returning battalions, will be placed under his division.

 Outgoing AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano, in his statement last week, said that the five EastMinCom battalions that were sent to Sulu would be returned here.