By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Without a doubt, a lot of people, particularly our soldiers, are still in high spirits due to the government’s successful campaign to thwart the spread of terrorism in Marawi City.
The remaining fighters of the Maute group, although supported by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have crumbled like cookies with the deaths of Omar Maute and Abu Sayyaf leader and appointed ISIS emir in Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon. Victory over a war that lasted for almost five months has finally been attained.
Still, the problem is far from over and may return when we least expect it. Remember, terrorism is a global problem that requires constant attention.
The government must understand the root cause of the crisis that struck Marawi and take extra precautions to prevent extremists from taking advantage of it. Otherwise, the problem will persist.
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Based on the history of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf since the 1990s, new leaders would emerge and take over following the deaths of their predecessors. Even though setbacks occurred, subgroups were formed which made it harder for government forces to hunt them down.
Also bear in mind that in our country’s history, the battle for Marawi, which lasted nearly five months, was never seen before in Mindanao where conflicts usually arose in Maguindanao, Sulu, and Basilan.
In fact, the Marawi combat, although a bloody, steep “tuition” to pay, could be deemed as a form of military “education” for the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups if they want their future resistance to last.
Apart from new terrorist leaders, the government should also be wary of the hundreds of relatives of those radicals killed in the war. They may seek revenge.
Recruiters who are allegedly using social media and showing images of the conflict in Marawi to persuade potential ISIS members to fight for their cause should be hunted down vigorously.
Big-time financiers who supported the Mautes should also be pursued. A report said the siege succeeded only because of the support provided by the wealthy residents of the area. Thus, tunnels were built and high-powered guns were slipped inside without the military’s knowledge.
If the military fails to catch these rich financiers, they could easily use their wealth to back new terrorist groups to destabilize the government.
As much as Firing Line would want to see an end to the conflict, the fight could go on and on even after the end of President Duterte’s term.
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