The successful capture of the key bridges within the city of Marawi allowed combat troops to pierce the perimeter of the terrorist group’s remaining defensive pockets.
October 16, 2017 was the key date in the struggle to secure Marawi City. It was the day when elements of the Philippine Army killed the leaders behind the Daesh-inspired Maute-ISIS group.
Within 24 hours, this would prompt President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to officially declare the liberation of the city of Marawi.
For the next seven days, a series of follow up operations were conducted to root out the remaining members of the extremist organization.
By October 23, 2017, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made a dramatic announcement during the Association of Southeast Nations Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM).
“After 154 days of the siege of Marawi by the Daesh-inspired Maute-ISIS group, or after a week since the Commander-in-Chief declared the liberation of Marawi, we now announce the termination of all combat operations in Marawi,” the Defense Secretary said.
Defense Secretary Lorenzana explained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) managed to eliminate 920 terrorists during the military’s combat operations against the said organization.
Among those confirmed slain in the fighting were Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, Maute leader Omar Maute, Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian national who was tagged as the extremist group’s top financier, and other foreign nationals who joined the extremists.
Established in 2006, the ADMM is the highest defense consultative and cooperative mechanism in the ASEAN. It aims to promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defense and security challenges, as well as enhancement of transparency and openness among ten ASEAN member states namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Officials from Malaysia and Indonesia confirmed that some of their nationals were among those who supported the extremist group.
Aside from eliminating the terrorist presence in Marawi, the military also rescued 1,780 Filipinos the extremist group took as hostages.
According to the Defense Secretary, the successful conclusion of the AFP’s combat operations in Marawi helped prevent the spread of extremism in Southeast Asia. His fellow defense ministers in Asean agreed with the Philippine official’s assessment.
According to government records, 165 soldiers and policemen gave their lives protecting their fellow Filipinos from the scourge of the Daesh-inspired Maute-ISIS group since the Marawi siege began on May 23, 2017.
Elaborate ceremonies were given in honor of these Filipinos who chose to serve the country in uniform.
This was one of the moments that the general public gave a favorable view for the AFP and its three services, namely the Army, Navy and the Navy.
SECURING THE CITY
With the ending of active operations, the various combat units from the various AFP services began their withdrawal from Marawi.
The remaining military units then took steps to secure the city and remove all improvised explosive devices the terrorists left behind as booby traps. Combat patrols were also sent out to search for stragglers and hidden arms caches. In fact, just a few days after the end of combat operations, an alert patrol successfully recovered an arms cache which was hidden in a shallow portion of Lanao Lake.
Once the main battle area is cleared, the focus of operations will then shift to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas of Marawi that were damaged during the fighting.
Official government estimates said the reconstruction of Marawi City would cost around P50 billion.
As of this writing, it was announced that the government will finish building over a thousand temporary shelters by the end of 2017 for Marawi residents who lost their homes.
In a press release from the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the President signed Administrative Order No. 9 on October 27, 2017 ordering the change in the structure of the Task Force as he saw the necessity of a full-blown reconstruction, following Marawi City’s liberation from the control of ISIS-backed terrorist groups.
Task Force Bangon Marawi is now headed by the Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), with the Secretary of Department of National Defense (DND), the former Task Force chairman, and the Secretary of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as Co-Vice Chairpersons.
“The Chairman of the HUDCC as head of the Task Force Bangon Marawi shall have operational control and supervision of the said Task Force and the overall responsibility to ensure that the objectives of this Order are accomplished,” AO No. 9 said.
Further, the Sub-Committee on Housing, formerly under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, will also be headed by the HUDCC, which will be “primarily responsible for the immediate rehabilitation and construction of temporary or permanent shelters, and the restoration of water, electricity, and other public utilities.”
On the other hand, the Sub-Committee on Security, Peace and Order will now be co-headed by the DND and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). They will be responsible for the restoration and maintenance of peace and order, and the continuity of public services in Marawi City.
The reorganization of Task Force Bangon Marawi reflects the shift in government’s priority in rebuilding and developing war-affected areas in Marawi.
ONE ASEAN, ONE RESPONSE
One factor not often seen by the public during the fighting for Marawi City was the assistance given to the Philippines by ASEAN.
Last July, the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA CENTER) provided support to the Philippine government by flying ASEAN relief items for internally displaced people from Marawi City and surrounding localities.
The AHA Centre deployed its ASEAN relief items stored in Subang, Malaysia in two batches, through the Davao airport on and through Laguindingan airport with the Malaysian military aircraft. Some of the items handed over were personal hygiene kits, family tents, family kits, kitchen sets and water filtration units.
“This ASEAN’s effort through the AHA Centre could not be achieved without the strong support from the Government of Malaysia, in particular, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysia Armed Force and SMART Team, who lent their state-of-the art A400M military aircraft to mobilize some of the items; and also, the support from the Government of Japan through the ASEAN Disaster Emergency Logistic System for ASEAN (DELSA) project that allows for the provision of the relief items; also the support of our partners, UN Humanitarian Response Depot of the World Food Programme, the Corporate Citizen Foundation of Singapore and Direct Relief. Our AHA Centre Executive (ACE) graduates from the Philippines and Malaysia have also facilitated this response,” the AHA Center said.
“Today is one of those moments when the vision of One ASEAN, One Response is no longer an imagination but a realization,” said Adelina Kamal, Acting Executive Director of the AHA Centre during the official handover of the relief items, attended by high-level officials from the Government of the Philippines as well as the Government of Malaysia.
The AHA Centre, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, was established in November 2011 by the ten ASEAN Member States. Since its establishment, the AHA Centre has responded to 16 disasters in the region, including this emergency response in Marawi. The AHA Centre put its stockpile of relief items in Subang, Malaysia, at the UN Humanitarian Response Depot.
The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Center) is an inter-governmental organization which aims to facilitate cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States and with the United Nations and international organizations for disaster management.