Earlier this month, it was reported that over several scores of ISIS aligned terrorists of the illegal Maute Group remained in the besieged southern Philippine city of Marawi. Today, Philippines Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that “There are no more militants in Marawi”.
His full statement was released on Twitter and is reproduced below:
— Delfin Lorenzana (@del_lorenzana) October 23, 2017
In May of this year, the Maute terrorist group confirmed its allegiance to ISIS and began a violent takeover of Marawi on the island of Mindanao. The terrorist onslaught began as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was in Moscow for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since then, Russia has pledged to work closely with Philippines to cooperate on security issues. Recently, Manila confirmed the receipt of a free shipment of weapons from Russia.
This will be invaluable to Philippines as latent rebel and terrorist groups in Mindanao may still pose lingering threats to security and stability. However, the worst of the terrorist onslaught is over and President Duterte’s initiative to declare martial law in Mindanao is now fully vindicated.
As I wrote previous in The Duran,
“After nearly six months of fighting, the ISIS aligned Maute Group is on the verge of total elimination in southern Philippines. Since May of this year, Maute terrorists pledged their allegiance to ISIS and begun a brutal siege of the city of Marawi on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Crucially, the siege started while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Many have linked the timing as being symbolic of forces which seek to prevent Duterte’s geo-political pivot away from Washington and closer to both Beijing and Moscow.
Since then, the tide has turned in the Battle of Marawi and now it is said that less than 50 terrorists continue to lay siege to an increasingly small part of the city.
Early reports stated that around 40 militants were holding 100 hostages, but this number has been reduced to less than 40 hostages after a recent operation by Philippine troops. It was said that intelligence provided by freed hostages, helped troops to better coordinate their efforts during their successful anti-terror operation.
During a standoff with Philippine troops, the two leaders of the ISIS insurgency were killed, thus ending a reign of terror for the people of Marawi. The terrorist kingpins Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were confirmed dead by Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in the following statement:
“We have received a report from (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ground commanders in Marawi that the operation conducted by government forces to retake the last remaining Daesh-Maute stronghold in the city has resulted in the death of the last terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, and that their bodies have been recovered by our operating units”.
The following images of the dead terrorist chiefs have brought solace to many Filipinos who were mercilessly menaced by a blood-soaked campaign of horror.
As the Armed Force of Philippines stand on the verge of total victory in Marawi, the successful operation also vindicates President Duterte’s decision to put Mindanao under martial law, beginning in May. While the opposition Liberal party denounced and worked to undermine Duterte’s decision, the President argued that this was the only way to quickly and effectively purge Marawi and neighbouring areas of terrorist occupation.
Photos have emerged of troops celebrating their victory as morale remains high.
The rapid success of Philippine troops against foreign funded and heavily armed terrorists, has progressed according to Duterte’s original proposals. With a full victory now possible in a matter of days, President Duterte’s battle strategy can now be called a success”.
While Duterte’s Liberal opposition continually criticised his war effort, his decisive action has spared Philippines a protracted struggle against ISIS and has achieved a comparatively rapid and decisive victory.
It now remains for Duterte to settle the century long question of Moro (Philippine Muslims) issues in southern Philippines, as he pledged to do. Duterte, as a native of Mindanao, is uniquely placed to bring about a final peace settlement. Previously, Duterte pledged to work towards federalisation of Philippines and barring that, for an autonomous status to Moro regions.
As Philippines is a large and geographically diverse country, it is high-time to implement needed legal changes to make political structures of the country work more for ordinary people. While sceptics continue to criticise Duterte, while presenting no viable alternative, Duterte continues to make good on his campaign pledges.
President Duterte has already accomplished more in just over one year in office than most of his predecessors had done in full Presidential terms. As the Philippine economy continues to grow, safety and prosperity are rapidly becoming the primary themes of the Duterte era.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.