Pacquiao visits troops in Marawi | Tempo

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By: BEN R. ROSARIO • MARIO B. CASAYURAN

Sen. Manny Pacquiao lifted the spirits of troops fighting the Maute Group for over two months in Marawi City during a visit to Camp Ranao yesterday.

Pacquiao, dressed in a military camouflage uniform without a bulletproof vest, joked that he would join the fight but commended the soldiers for putting their lives on the line for the country.

This handout from the Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) taken and released on July 29, 2017 shows Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (C) posing for photos with soldiers during a visit to a military camp in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao.
Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao lifted the spirits of Philippine troops in a visit on July 29 to a southern city where soldiers have been battling pro-Islamic State militants for over two months. / AFP PHOTO / Western Mindanao Command / HANDOUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / WESTERN MINDANAO COMMAND” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

“You are the real heroes, not Manny Pacquiao. I am just a boxer but you give your lives for our country,” he told soldiers.

“Hopefully, I can come back here and greet you again when the fighting is done and if it isn’t finished when I come back, then I will be the one who will go over there,” said Pacquiao, referring to a battleground outside the camp where gunshots and explosions could be heard.

“I salute you for your bravery. I came here to express the support of the legislature for your campaign,” Pacquiao added.

Pacquiao believes that the fighting is winding down as the number of militants is being reduced considerably.

He said the soldiers he talked to a kilometer away from the combat zone asked the Filipino people to pray for them and give them moral support.

“Malapit na,’’ Pacquiao, quoting the soldiers, said.

Pacquiao said the fighting was still intense but claimed he is not scared amidst the cacophony of artillery fire heard from a distance. “I grew up in a conflict area in Sarangani,” he said.

Pacquiao and his brother, Sarangani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao, pledged to play basketball with the troops as soon as the former gets another chance to visit them in their camp.

Sen. Pacquiao, a world boxing icon and a reserve Army lieutenant colonel, vowed to build a covered basketball court for the soldiers and hinted he would be playing with them when he comes back.

Rep. Pacquiao said he and the senator are strongly pushing for the passage of the bill proposing a supplemental budget to the support the military efforts to destroy the Maute Group.

He lauded his brother for taking time off to cheer the soldiers who have put their lives on the line in order to put an end to terrorism and the threat to civilians.

Three days before his visit, Sen. Pacquiao sent five of his Senate staff to distribute more than 3,000 packs of relief items to government troops deployed in Marawi.

The senator was the first among incumbent senators members to visit soldiers in the war zone.

From Camp Ranao, Pacquiao and his entourage dropped by the headquarters of the Army 2nd Mechanized Brigade in Iligan where he delivered a five-minute inspirational message to soldiers.

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