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The Tragedy of Marawi For A Chastened Duterte

The Tragedy of Marawi for a Chastened Duterte

The destruction of the Islamic city of Marawi has tragically confounded the aspirations of President Rodrigo Duterte, the small-town mayor who became the Philippine President and has discovered that his ambitions outweighed his capabilities.

Based on his experience as the mayor of Davao City, where he had a friendly relationship with the region’s Muslims, Duterte promised during his presidential campaign to deliver an elusive peace in the southern Philippines in his term.

The fighting that raged throughout Ramadan to flush out terrorists pledging allegiance to the Islamic State has reached catastrophic proportions not seen in the recent cycle of violence on Mindanao island. The Islamists at the very epicenter of his polity say they want to establish a caliphate, with jihadis crossing onto Mindanao’s unguarded beaches from Yemen, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.

The president too has not been seen in public – raising serious questions over the 72-year-old’s health –for the most part of the crisis that has claimed more than 400 lives, displacing tens and thousands of Muslims, while the military battled in what was once a heritage city that has gone to ruins, the fighting now tapering off in its sixth week.

Suddenly appearing at the presidential palace for the late celebration of Eid al-Fitr, Duterte said he was saddened and angered and fell back to his default mood of cursing the tragedy of the Maranao tribe in Marawi – whom he had often boasted were among his blood families

No longer the tough guy

And the tragedy for the president is that his pulse of Mindanao, of which he is a “proud son,” is no better than those of his predecessors who also had to face the rawness of the decades-long conflict. It has dismantled his armor of being the tough guy in the neighborhood.

The map of Mindanao has been scorched with far too many killings, battles, burnings – reaching major proportions seemingly every two years, the last of which was a botched police operation in early 2015, before that a rebel siege in a largely Christian city in 2013, and the killings of scores journalists by a warlord family in late 2009.

The battle for the city of Marawi in northwestern Mindanao, whose population once numbered 200,000 but which is now wrecked, has defied military logic, with the commanders forced to send in the armor and artillery and to pour down bombs in a series of air strikes, asking help from the Americans that Duterte had scorned, to bear the brutal challenge of the terrorists’ arsenal of high-powered weapons.

No longer fighting and running

It used to be that rebels would fight, withdraw, and fight another day. Not this one.

The president hadn’t realized that the Maute group that he had belittled would strike in such a spectacular show of force. He said himself that if it had been a war against the old guard of the Moro National Liberation Front and its breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front, he would have “endured it and pleaded peace with you.”

“What is painful to me is the entry of a fractured ideology and they don’t even know what they’re doing. All they want is to kill and destroy,” he said. “If they went to a forested area, claim a particular mountain and fight there I could have forgiven them.”

That was the specter of Marawi: radicalization choosing Mindanao to make its mark in Southeast Asia from orders in the Middle East. When the fighting broke out on May 23, the terrorists could have taken over, raised the black flag over the hills of the army brigade camp, to establish a wilayat, an Arab word for a dominion, that would have been of unimaginable consequences. They were stopped in the nick of time.

The president said it would not have worked anyway, because “we are a Malay race, we are not that brutal and we respect life.” Had he not known that terrorists who had first come to the shores sowing violent extremism in the minds of the local rebel groups were from Indonesia and Malaysia, and were ethnic Malays?

Open park

Mindanao is an open park for the terrorists crossing the waters from neighboring countries in the southern fringes; and without strict identification control and border patrols that are emblem of internal security. it’s a walk to the rebel enclaves.

The plains and the mountains around the borders of Lanao del Sur (of which Marawi is a part) and Maguindanao provinces have been training grounds since the 1990s for Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. It was then that an Indonesian named Ibrahim Ali was among the first batch of the so-called cadets.

It was Ali, according to one intelligence report, whom the IS had wanted to designate the emir for Southeast Asia but who was killed in a shootout in late 2015 in the Philippines’ Sultan Kudarat Province, that was intended to capture a leader of another rebel group. The military was to discover later that it was Ali the bomb maker who was among the casualties.

Consequently, it was a daring leap for Isnilon Hapilon to be named the emir for the Southeast Asian Caliphate from his Abu Sayyaf rebel base on Basilan island to the mainland’s northwest frontier to join forces with the Maute family – steeped in money and in clan wars – that held fort in a remote town called Butig, about an hour away by land from Marawi.

It was believed the Mautes had previously harbored radicals, one of whom was an Islamic teacher from Indonesia who was killed in late 2012.

Two of the Maute sons became the up-and-coming terror bloc generation, going by the deeds of the Islamic State that were evidently a departure from the main rebel groups negotiating peace with the government. The Maute group was responsible for the bomb attack last September in President Duterte’s hometown of Davao, a blow to what was supposed to be an impenetrable “alternate seat of power.”

Twice in the midst of the crisis in Marawi, the president withdrew from public view, sparking rumors of failing health. He had boldly announced that the siege would come to an end on the Philippines’ Independence Day, June 12, but that didn’t happen as the battle went on to take control of the city while he himself missed the celebration that was expected of a president. His spokesman said he needed to rest.

Meanwhile he had declared martial for the entire island of Mindanao, reminding his guests at the palace gathering for the Muslim festival, seated at ornate tables under bright chandeliers, that the Marawi crisis had forced his hand.

False confidence

“I knew everything,” he said, “I knew the deployment of the snipers and where they hid the weapons. I already had a complete picture and I knew it would be a long fight.”

He had been in Moscow when the fighting struck in the afternoon of May 23, raising the question of how much he really knew, when on his Russian trip he had in his entourage about 50 police and military generals that included senior commanders and their deputies who took their wives along in what became evident as a junket.

Scattered information from the intelligence community had sensed that something was afoot a couple of weeks in advance, sources said, taking notice of a swelling of forces in the Maute stronghold. One intelligence group from the Navy, dubbing their project Target Pocket Bingo, had been following Hapilon for about three years, maybe more.

Eventually crumbs of information led them from the southern islands all the way up to Marawi, where special units of the army and the navy were called in for the hunt. Within half an hour gunfire erupted from the building in which Hapilon was believed to have been staying, triggering a battle that has changed dimensions in the conflict.

The military said Hapilon might have escaped the fighting and that they believe one of the principal Maute brothers has been killed. Weeks on, the president told his audience in the palace that a casualty among the Maute family was a cousin, “did you know that?” – putting himself in a perplexed state of having been deceived, making him a victim among the thousands of Maranaos who had lost what they had because of “this adventure.”

“Ungoverned spaces”

He promised, again, to rebuild Marawi from the rubble, to bring back its prosperity – if by that he meant its shadow economy thriving on guns and drugs and other illegal trades. The city may well be the denouement of things that can’t go back to the way they were before. It was one of those “ungoverned spaces” labeled by the navy’s special operations force that has caused radicalization to fester.

The military was one step behind in having tried averting it, but it wasn’t fast enough to douse the fire of violent extremism.

After it has been destroyed in order to save it, Marawi has to be resurrected with a symbol erasing the past. It will have to start on a clean slate, this crisis being a heartbreaking wake-up call for all of Mindanao. The president may have to stop harking back to his one-dimensional view of the Muslim narrative, because it has to move forward or risk greater failures.

He said he couldn’t bear watching the suffering on television, he would turn it off or change the channel to watching cartoons instead.
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Comments

  • 070888070888 Member ✭✭
    booksalz wrote: »
    and if naive duterte is not careful, we gonna lose our territories to china because he refused to fight for RP sovereignty.

    We lost it already daw dahil kay pnoy. Blame game card lang pantapat nila dyan.
  • _knorr__knorr_ 2017 Person of the Year ✭✭✭
    2017-07-13_181706.jpg
  • paenggoypaenggoy Member ✭✭✭
    That doesn't make sense, as a tough guy would engage in a fight with the Maute group, and a chastened one would back down.
  • buddywbuddyw Member ✭✭✭
    Duterte pushed deal to end Marawi siege, then backed out —Muslim leader

    MARAWI CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte was preparing to make a deal with Islamic State-inspired militants in the days after they laid siege to a southern city, but aborted the plan without explanation, an intermediary involved in the process said.

    Agakhan Sharief, a prominent Muslim leader, told Reuters that after a band of Islamist fighters overran parts of Marawi City on May 23 and took hundreds of people hostage, he was approached by a senior Duterte aide to use his connections with the Maute militant group's leaders to start back-channel talks.

    Two other Marawi sources familiar with the matter confirmed the president had worked behind the scenes to hold talks with the Maute brothers, Omarkhayam and Abdullah.

    However, the process was halted when Duterte in a May 31 speech declared he "will not talk to terrorists".

    It was not immediately clear what prompted Duterte's about-face. It came five days after another televised speech in which he told the militants "we can still solve this through dialogue", but if he could not convince them of that, "so be it. Let's just fight".

    "The problem with our president, his mind is changing always," said Sharief, a cleric who has had roles in various peace agreements on the long-restive southern island of Mindanao. "He announced he will no longer talk to terrorists and that made our negotiations cut."

    Duterte's top peace envoy Jesus Dureza said he was unaware of any back-channel talks, while his national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon said it was unlikely Duterte had reached out to the Maute group.

    "Why will he talk to the terrorists?" Esperon said.

    Despite his tough rhetoric and frequent promises to wipe out militants, Duterte has a reputation as a peace-broker, having dealt with separatist and Marxist rebellions during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, an island of 22 million with a long history of unrest.

    Duterte's biggest crisis

    The battle for control of Marawi has been the biggest crisis of Duterte's year-old presidency.

    Fighters from the Maute group and others loyal to Islamic State have been holed up in the commercial district of the town through more than 40 days of air strikes, artillery bombardments and fierce street clashes with troops.

    More than 400 people have been killed, including 337 militants, 85 members of the security forces, and 44 civilians. Some 260,000 residents have been displaced by a siege that has fanned regional fears that Islamic State is trying to establish a stronghold in Southeast Asia.

    Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra confirmed that back-channel talks did start but said he was not privy to details.

    He told Reuters the process failed because the rebels did not show good faith or reduce the intensity of attacks on government forces after Duterte offered them an olive branch.

    "There was a window of opportunity," he said. "But there was no show of sincerity."

    Rebels 'convinced'


    Sharief, known locally as "Bin Laden" due to his resemblance to the late al Qaeda leader, would not reveal the identity of Duterte's aide, whom he said was confidentially assigned to set up a meeting with the Maute clan.

    He said the aide agreed that Sharief would accompany the Maute brothers' influential mother, Farhana, by helicopter to meet Duterte in nearby Cagayan De Oro or Davao City.

    Sharief said her sons who requested she represent them in talks with Duterte.

    "He (Duterte's aide) prepared everything that I needed. I told him that I need a chopper to get the mother of the Maute brothers to bring her to the president. He prepared that."

    "I called the Maute brothers and their mother ... I told them, I convinced them."

    Sharief said the president was prepared to offer the Maute clan implementation of Sharia law in their hometown, Butig, if he achieves his goal of establishing a federal system in the Philippines. Reuters could not independently verify that such a proposal had been made.

    The talks with the Maute group did not go ahead and the mother was arrested on June 9 elsewhere in the same province as Marawi. The Maute brothers' father, Cayamora Maute, was apprehended three days earlier in Davao City.

    The cleric said that the rebels would have taken Duterte's deal to end the siege.

    "They agreed, they supported this," said Sharief, who last met with Abdullah Maute on June 25, when he led a group of emissaries into the heart of Marawi to free some hostages during the Eid al-Fitr Islamic holiday.

    Sharief, who owns four private schools in Marawi, some of which were badly damaged by the fighting, said he was against the radical ideology of Islamic State. But he said he was reluctant to speak out against the Maute clan because he still hoped he could convince them to end the siege.

    "I am a peacemaker," he said. "I cannot negotiate anymore if I talk against them."
  • chrisdaychrisday Member PExer
    I think we are lucky Marawi Siege happened under President Duterte's watch, if it happen under a weak President, the whole of Mindanao would have been ISIS territory already.
  • blue_tracerblue_tracer soundscapes ✭✭✭
    chrisday wrote: »
    I think we are lucky Marawi Siege happened under President Duterte's watch, if it happen under a weak President, the whole of Mindanao would have been ISIS territory already.

    could not agree more. weak president, you mean noynoy? :rotflmao:
  • sargosargo got balls ✭✭✭
    could not agree more. weak president, you mean noynoy? :rotflmao:

    chrisday wrote: »
    I think we are lucky Marawi Siege happened under President Duterte's watch, if it happen under a weak President, the whole of Mindanao would have been ISIS territory already.

    in what way did Dutete show he is not a "weak president"? that he is a strong president?

    > Dutete disappeared from public view TWICE while the war was raging in Marawi

    > Dutete, his generals and security officials were in Russia when the occupation was started despite KNOWING a few days and weeks before the start it was going to happen

    > Dutete announced he wanted to go to Marawi but didn't precede because it was raining

    > there were multiple intelligence failures before and during the siege

    > Dutete missed several deadlines that HE and his security officials said will be the end of the siege

    how is Dutete not weak with the above? that does not show he is not weak. it shows not only weakness but incompetence and failure.
  • GlindaGlinda Bane of All Things Chaka PExer
    070888 wrote: »
    We lost it already daw dahil kay pnoy. Blame game card lang pantapat nila dyan.

    It's not "daw." It's an indisputable fact, darling. :flower:
  • sargosargo got balls ✭✭✭
    "duterte is not weak"

    bwahahahaha
    _knorr_ wrote: »
    2017-07-13_181706.jpg
  • BeerhandBopBeerhandBop I Am WHIP ✭✭✭
    "I think we are lucky Marawi Siege happened under President Duterte's watch, if it happen under a weak President, the whole of Mindanao would have been ISIS territory already.
    "


    nah. the americans would already have bases set up here. dem terrorists would just be cowering in fear
  • NilsNils Hunter ✭✭✭
    "I think we are lucky Marawi Siege happened under President Duterte's watch, if it happen under a weak President, the whole of Mindanao would have been ISIS territory already.
    "


    nah. the americans would already have bases set up here. dem terrorists would just be cowering in fear

    Huh? Dem terrorists would have a pipeline of weapons and ammo coming from the Americans you mean...:lol:
  • _knorr__knorr_ 2017 Person of the Year ✭✭✭
    2017-07-13_221107.jpg
  • _knorr__knorr_ 2017 Person of the Year ✭✭✭
    2017-07-17_054142.jpg
  • buddywbuddyw Member ✭✭✭
    100th soldier killed in Marawi day after gov't takes key bridge

    MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The death of an elite Army soldier early morning on Friday, July 21, brought the military's death toll in Marawi City to 100.

    The yet to be named soldier – a fighter of the Army Light Reaction force – was advancing to clear another building in the battle zone when a sniper's bullet killed him, according to a Rappler source privy to the operations on the ground.

    "He's our 100th KIA (killed in action)," said the source. The military has not released the number of wounded soldiers.

    He also died on the 60th day of the clashes against homegrown terrorist groups that pledged allegiance to the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). A few hundred buildings have yet to be cleared in the battle zone.

    Official tally shows 99 government forces have been killed in Marawi. The military waits 24 hours before releasing its latest death toll.

    Up to 427 terrorists and 45 civilians have been killed, according to military data. A total of 525 firearms were also recovered. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)

    The death toll among government forces reached the 3-digit mark a day after troops scored a major triumph in the battlefield. The government gained control of a road extending from Mapandi Bridge, allowing troops to cross the bridge with less resistance.

    Mapandi Bridge is one of 3 bridges on Agus River that separate the so-called safezone – the northern half of Marawi that is controlled by the military – and the main battle area in the vicity of Banggolo located at the city's southern half.

    Enemy snipers are well placed at the end of the bridges on the southern half of the city, making the bridges practically unuseable since the clashes started. The military has been forced to take a longer route to inject troops inside the main battle area.

    It was past the Mapandi Bridge where military suffered the so-called "Bloody Friday" when 13 Marines conducting combat clearing operations were killed in a single day.

    But on Thursday morning, July 20, troops finally gained control of the road extending from Mapandi Bridge going towards the battle zone.

    Clearing operations continue. The Mapandi bridge is still unsafe for civilians but troops are soon expected to use the bridge for faster deployment to the battle area.

    Two other bridges remain a challenge, the New Bridge and the Banggolo Bridge.
  • 070888070888 Member ✭✭
    Condolence sa ika 100 na bayani.

    Bombahin na kase mga mosque para mapuksa na mga maute ng tuluyan. Ilan na lang ba estimate natitirang maute? Sana talaga matapus na gulo sa mindanao.

    Madami dami din mga muslim against sa dec.31 ml extention. Wag naman sanang mangyari dahil sa disgusto nila sa ml extention ay bumaliktad sila.
  • buddywbuddyw Member ✭✭✭
    9 soldiers killed in Marawi as gunmen lobbed hand grenades – Army

    ILIGAN CITY — Nine soldiers were killed while 49 others were wounded in a firefight with Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City on Friday (July 21).

    Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, told reporters Sunday that the terrorists went nearer to the operating troops and lobbed hand grenades.

    Some of the soldiers were wounded in Friday’s fighting.

    Galvez refused to comment when asked if the attack also involved a car bomb, saying it was an “operational matter.”

    Abdullah Maute, one of the leaders of the terror group, earlier warned of more attacks in Marawi and Iligan Cities. SFM
  • xpopcornxxpopcornx Member ✭✭✭
    070888 wrote: »
    Condolence sa ika 100 na bayani.

    Bombahin na kase mga mosque para mapuksa na mga maute ng tuluyan. Ilan na lang ba estimate natitirang maute? Sana talaga matapus na gulo sa mindanao.

    Madami dami din mga muslim against sa dec.31 ml extention. Wag naman sanang mangyari dahil sa disgusto nila sa ml extention ay bumaliktad sila.

    Di kasi bombahin ang mga Mosque kasi nandun din ang mga hostages.
  • _knorr__knorr_ 2017 Person of the Year ✭✭✭
    2017-07-23_060015.jpg
  • paenggoypaenggoy Member ✭✭✭
    I think such a tragedy will chasten any President. But a strong one will bounce back.
  • buddywbuddyw Member ✭✭✭
    Defense chief Lorenzana: Gov’t has spent almost P3B in Marawi clash

    The government has spent nearly P3 billion in the almost three-month firefight against the ISIS-inspired Maute group in Marawi City, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

    In an interview with reporters, Lorenzana admitted that they have yet to collate the full report but initially, the Philippine Army said it has already spent P1.3 billion in its operations in Marawi.

    “Sa Army pa lang yun, so hindi pa kasama yung Air Force, the Marines na nand’un din. So siguro mga roughly, mga nagagastos natin diyan since the start is about P2.5 billion, P2.5 to P3 billion,” he told reporters Thursday.

    The firefight started in May 23 when government security forces conducted an operation to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. The police and military were surprised when Maute members engaged them in a firefight.

    Lorenzana said he is hoping Congress would replenish their funds.

    “Hopefully we can ask Congress to replenish those funds kasi yung mga pera na yan kinuha namin sa ibang projects e para ilagay, para magamit doon, especially the procurement of more equipment saka bullet proof vests, mga helmet, mga night vision goggles saka ‘yung mga bala,” he said.

    He said they never expected the clash would last as long as it now has.

    The Defense chief said his men on the ground believe they need one to two more months to end the battle for the city.

    “Tinanong namin last week yung mga tao run, sabi ng mga tropa, ng mga commanders, one or two months na lang, matagal-tagal pa rin,” he said.

    He added they are not rushing their men as they do not want to put the operation at risk.

    “Ang sabi nga ni Presidente (Rodrigo Duterte) ‘wag kayong magmadali dahil pag nagmamadali kayo maraming namamatay sa inyo e. Saka yung mga natatakot na maipit sa loob e, we don’t want them to be killed,” he said.
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