SLOWLY BUT SURELY

DURING the past few weeks we’ve heard the military setting deadlines or making conjectures as to when the Marawi Siege would end, hopefully with the arrest or neutralization (death, in military parlance) of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the leaders of the ISIS-inspired group which laid siege to the city.

I understand that the military, as I do, only wishes to give assurance to the people of Marawi that they could soon go back and rebuild their homes, also to the families of the soldiers that their loved ones would soon be going home and be out of harm’s way.

The “before the end of October” deadline was mentioned by Western Mindanao (Westmincom) chief Lieutenant General Charlie Galvez and is still a safe target. A few weeks ago, even Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana said it would end “on Sunday” which did not happen. A closer deadline, however, was set for the troops, that is tomorrow, October 15.

However, to many who are not in the frontlines, it is easier said than done. Even when the main battle area has been reduced to the size of an elementary school ground, the resistance would be most difficult if, indeed, as intelligence sources claim, the two main antagonists are still in the area. The military says the terrorists who are still alive are the fiercest of them all and are willing and ready to die.

We understand if the military troops would do their job slowly but surely, avoiding having casualties as they approach the finish line.

Slowly but surely also, a friend has risen to what he is now—the Commanding General of the Philippine Army (CGPA). Back in Basilan, then 104th Brigade commander Colonel Rolando Joselito Bautista, who everybody fondly called “Sir Rolly,” had definitely for the life of him never imagined he would someday be leading the more than 80,000-strong Philippine Army. During one of our conversations a few years ago, he even mentioned the name of another general who was like a brother to me as one who would most likely become a CGPA.

When I congratulated him last year for having been picked by President Duterte as the incoming commander of the Presidential Security Group, he called me and said he was on his way to the AFP General Headquarters to be formally notified by the AFP Chief of Staff about his new designation. He even asked where I received information that he was chosen, saying he was as surprised as I was for the great opportunity. Who knows what fate has in store for this shy, respectful and unassuming army general whom everybody loves. BEEN THERE DONE THAN THAT/JOSEPHINE CODILLA

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