Amid fighting, PH flag hoisted in Marawi on Independence Day

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — With gunfire and explosions in the background, a flag-raising ceremony was held at the Marawi City Hall on Monday, Independence Day — a first after almost three weeks of fighting in the city.

With skirmishes still ongoing as government forces pressed toward terrorist holdouts, Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra gave an emotional speech to his constituents — saying they would fight against those who destroyed their city.

"My brothers and sisters, let's not be afraid," Gandamra said. "I swear to Allah, I will not leave you."

He said the lawless elements wanted to destroy their future — and this was something he would not let happen.

"We will defeat the enemies, even if this costs my life," he said.

Related: High-noon salute for Marawi heroes

It was also an emotional event at the provincial capitol where some government officials, firemen and rescue workers shed tears as the Philippine flag was raised.

Lanao Del Sur Vice Governor Bombit Alonto Adiong, said families should be together during this time of Ramadan, but they had been separated from each other by war.

Related: Military hopes to liberate Marawi by Independence Day

The military had hoped to "liberate" Marawi today, Independe Day. But as some enemy snipers had been spotted in previously cleared areas, authorities say the fighting could still drag on for days. President Rodrigo Duterte himself had given a similar forecast, saying it was just "a matter of days" before the rebellion would be crushed.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.