First batch of triumphant Philippine soldiers return home from Marawi

Philippine soldiers from Marawi are welcomed home by their relatives at Villamor Airbase in Manila on Oct 20, 2017.
Philippine soldiers from Marawi are welcomed home by their relatives at Villamor Airbase in Manila on Oct 20, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A batch of Philippine army troops arrived to a heroes' welcome in Manila on Friday (Oct 20), becoming the first soldiers to return home after fighting one of the bloodiest and longest urban war in Philippine history.

The 1st Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division was one of the first units sent to reinforce soldiers in Marawi City after the war on ISIS-linked militants broke out on May 23.

Before flying to Manila, the battalion, led by Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, was awarded with a Command Plaque in Marawi City by Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galve.

Tampus was also awarded with the Silver Medal Award, along with his three company commanders.

A heroes' welcome was prepared by the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

Lilibeth Peralta, wife of Private First Class John Peralta, said she couldn't contain her joy that her husband would come home safe.

The couple has two children - Rhayv John and Rhayv Yuan, with ages 6 and 4.

The Western Mindanao Command said the 1st IB is responsible for the rescue of 34 hostages of the members of the Maute Group and the recovery of assorted high powered and low powered firearms.

Marawi City was declared liberated from terrorists on Tuesday, a day after top leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed by government forces.

While military operations were continuing, the military said the less than 30 remaining terrorists were no longer a threat.