MANILA -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, December 18, commended the heroic deeds of law enforcers who risked their lives to liberate Marawi City from the Maute terrorist group.

The Chief Executive conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu to members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) during a ceremonial awarding at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center in Camp Crame.

“Their heroic deeds have made it possible for our people in the city to resume their lives in peace,” the President said in his speech, noting that the conferment ceremony is just one of the government’s efforts to rejuvenate the country and build the gains in nation-building.

President Duterte also dedicated a part of his speech to honor those who perished during the five-month battle in the Islamic City.

“They are the epitome of courage, bravery and patriotism. Indeed, for paying the ultimate sacrifice and for rendering extraordinary service to our nation, we consider them as our heroes,” he said.

In addition, the President assured that the government would take care of the policemen and soldiers who were injured during the operations as well as the needs of their families and loved ones.

He said the government has released PHP500 million to sustain the medications of wounded personnel. Likewise, PHP500 million would also be allocated for the hospitals.

For widows of government forces who perished, the President assured that he would provide them jobs. “Pero ang mga byuda, may trabaho ‘yan. Lahat ng byuda na pinuntahan ko, may trabaho ‘yan. Maghanap ako ng pwesto sa gobyerno,” he said.

The Chief Executive also commended the entire PNP organization for its contributions in liberating Marawi City, as well as in helping fight insurgency in other parts of the country.

“Your bravery and skill have truly been evident during all these police operations and encounters with lawless elements,” he said.

At the same time, Duterte urged policemen to be steadfast in upholding their duties with credibility and integrity. “You play an important role in bringing about the strong and peaceful Philippines that we all yearn for and deserve,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President declared that intensified police operations against the remaining terrorist groups would continue, not just in Mindanao but in all corners of the country where such lawless elements thrive, even as the government sustains its efforts against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.

Duterte likens NPA to ISIS During his speech, the President did not mince his words as he criticized the New People's Army (NPA) and compared them to ISIS.

“I’m sick and tired of talking to you. Almost pareho kayo ng ISIS. It’s an empty thing. There is no ideology except to destroy and kill. That’s about it," Duterte said.

He lamented the attacks of the rebel group against soldiers carrying out relief efforts; robbing the poor; and sexually harassing women. “That’s why, sabi ko, there is no point in talking to you. There’s not even a single factor of a revolutionary there,” he said. (PND)