MANY of us forgot the nightmarish bombardment that flattened to ash Marawi City two years ago. But for the 70,000 people who are still in temporary shelters until now, the fierceness of war continues until today.
It all started when the government security forces raided Basak Malutlut village of Marawi in the afternoon of May 23, 2017 to capture Abu Sayyaf faction jihadist Isnilon Hapilon. As they approached the village, the troops met with heavy gunfire from Hapilon’s elite combatants. And just before the sun set, the reinforcement from a militant affiliate Maute group came to augment Hapilon’s fighters. Both Hapilon and Maute’s groups are linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The commander-in-chief, who at that time cut short his state visit in Russia, ordered to finish the battle in 10 to 15 days but the government forces’ unfamiliarity with urban combat stretched out the war to 153 days. The Marawi siege was the longest urban battle in the country after the World War II.
When the smoke cleared at ground zero, thousands were killed including 978 militants (13 foreigners) and 168 government forces (12 by friendly fire). Twelve militants were captured (one foreigner), more than 1,400 government forces were wounded and 47 civilians were dead. The city was literally trodden to dust with 95 percent of the structures collapsed (3,152 buildings were destroyed and 2,145 buildings were partially to heavily damaged) and more than 200,000 residents were displaced during the crisis. The rest is history.
On Oct. 17, 2017, when both leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon were confirmed dead, the generals came and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared the war was over, saying: “I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of the rehabilitation of Marawi.”
Last week, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo elucidated that the government has funds amounting to P62 billion to rehabilitate Marawi, which will prioritize mosques, roads, hospitals then public infrastructure and assistance to private house owners. As to the businesses, the President is confident that businessmen can lay their own capitalization to jumpstart and assured that the government can extend loans if necessary.
The Marawi siege was stigmatized to be part of the war on drugs following the recovery of P10 million worth of shabu in the house of former mayor Omar Solitario Ali in June 2017. And on March 13, 2019, Marawi Vice Mayor Arafat Salic was arrested for rebellion, murder and illegal drug cases. Bangon, Marawi!