Malacañang on Saturday paid tribute to the 168 soldiers who died during the Marawi siege, which broke out this day in 2017.

“Today, as we remember Marawi, we pay tribute to the heroism of our fallen men in uniform during the siege of the Islamic City,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

Over 1,200 people died in the five-month battle between soldiers and the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute extremist group. President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law until December 2019.

Roque said the government was thankful for the Marawi residents‘ support and patience and vowed to ensure Marawi’s successful rehabilitation.

“The task of rebuilding Marawi remains enormous. We thank the people of Marawi for their patience and support to the government as we are also grateful to our partners and allies for continuously working with the Administration to ensure Marawi’s successful rehabilitation,” he said.

Roque said the government had made inroads in relocating internally displaced persons (IDPs) and building the key infrastructure of Marawi, adding that the reconstruction of Mapandi Bridge, the center of the initial clashes, had been completed.

According to a Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) report, the National Housing Authority has programmed a total of 4,866 transitional shelters for IDPs, with 2,911 units already occupied as of January 2020.

The report added that housing units in different stages of completion were expected to be done by the end of the year.

The government is targeting to build 3,580 units of permanent shelters by the first quarter of 2021. Currently, only 165 units are occupied.

Last May 21, TFBM chairperson Eduardo del Rosario announced the approval of the P3.56-billion budget for the rehabilitation of Marawi. John Ezekiel J. Hirro