THE soldiers who fought to liberate Marawi from the Maute terrorists will be given a vacation in Hong Kong as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte, a spokesman said on Sunday.
“That will push through, but the President has yet to set a schedule,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in an interview on radio dzMM.
“The President promised that, especially the women soldiers from Day 1 up to Day 148 that they will travel to Hong Kong and the President will shoulder all expenses on the hotel and possibly pocket money,” Andanar said.
The private sector would be helping Duterte to fulfill his promise, said Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces.
“An airline company will give free tickets and some private individuals will give pocket money,” Padilla said in a separate interview.
Duterte last week said Marawi has been liberated from terrorist influence, five months after Islamic State-inspired militants stormed the southern city.
The military has begun a gradual pullout of troops from the battle zone. Commandos are set to undergo stress debriefing and retraining, Padilla said.
Padilla earlier said the mutli-million-dollar reward for terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute was not intended for government troops.
He said that the $5-million reward from the US government will go to the informants, who will still need to undergo validation by the US agents.
He added that there is a committee assigned to review the process of awarding the bounty.
Padilla said, however, that it has not yet been decided who will collect the P10-million reward that President Rodrigo Duterte offered for Hapilon and P5 million each for the two Maute brothers, Abdullah and Omar.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier confirmed the deaths of Hapilon and Omar. Omar was shot in the head by a government sniper while Hapilon died of gunshot wounds in his chest.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday said that the DNA samples it tested matches that of Hapilon.