This week Duterte made his fifth visit to Marawi.
In the city, the President reiterated his earlier statement that no celebration would take place when the military finally liberated the city.
Instead, he said soldiers would quietly leave the city after clearing it of the enemies and improvised explosive devices.
As the AFP closes in on the last remaining fighters the battle is certainly almost over.Mr. Duterte also said the end of fighting in Marawi would signal the lifting of martial law, which he declared on May 23.
But that is only the Battle of Marawi. Mindanao, as it has for decades now, centuries even, remains in the death grip of Islamic terrorists. And make no mistake it is ISLAMIC terrorism which has ever been the plague of Mindanao. The conflict is with ISLAM. Not with just a few so-called radicals. ISLAM is the problem and if Duterte would admit that then perhaps he could accomplish his goal of bringing peace to Mindanao.
“It is not Islam. I should know. I would be the last person to condemn the Moro people,” Duterte said at a gathering with reporters on Friday evening, September 22.
On Friday, he explained the importance to prioritize its negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under the leadership of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.
Duterte is confusing two things in this statement. The Moro people can exist apart from Islam. It is not the Moro people in and of themselves which is the problem. It is Islam. Truly Islam is an alien ideology whose evangelists spilled much blood between Mecca and Mindanao to bring this foreign religion to the Moro people. Centuries later the Spanish colonised the area and there has been war ever since between ISLAM and Christianity. Today it is not the Catholics who are armed to the teeth and have formed separatist groups demanding their own autonomous religious state. It is the MUSLIMS. Duterte is out of his mind if he really thinks signing the BBL into law will bring peace into the area. There is no negotiation with MILF, MNLF, or any of the other terrorist groups.
The BBL will not make Mindanao safer. It will corral all the various ISLAMIC terrorist groups into one region and then each group will be vying for power. So when Duterte says he will lift martial law when Mindanao is safe we can be assured that martial law will not be lifted for a long time because Mindanao will never be safe until the ISLAMIC terrorist threat is defeated.
“Yes, when it’s safe,” he responded when asked when he would lift his martial law declaration.
“The catch word is when it’s safe here in Mindanao; there is no pulling of a… spillage of men. As long as it remains manageable and the police can take care of it,” he added.
He said the government has to clear Marawi City first and ensure there was no spillover of terrorist threat outside Marawi City.
Duterte has already warned of spillovers in Cotabato even going so far as to say the city is ready to explode. With the existence of Abu Sayyaf, MNLF, MILF, BIFF, and others there already is spillover. Does he think escaped Maute members won't regroup? That someone won't stand up to fill the void left by the death of the Maute brothers? Did Islam die out with the death of Mohammed or did someone else take the reins of leadership?
Not only does the military have to worry about other Islamic terrorist groups attacking them but there is even infighting between the various faction which also keeps Mindanao at risk and ultimately unsafe.
Col. Romeo Brawner, Joint Task Force Group Marawi commander, said top military officials in the region were trying to determine the identities of the people behind the group, as well as the source of the video that was posted on Facebook.
“We do not belittle this group. We take it seriously because they could encourage people outside of Marawi who have no idea what is really going on here,” Brawner said.
Do they really take it seriously? Does the AFP and Duterte and the PNP really take the threat of ISLAMIC terrorism in Mindanao seriously?
"The Philippines failed to detect, to read, the indicators, the signs, and the clues that led to Marawi. We have to acknowledge that," Gunaratna said on Friday.
"If governments do not understand to read the indicators, then another Marawi is inevitable in this region," he also said.
In a speech, Gunaratna pointed out that the Marawi siege "is not an intelligence failure," but "an operational failure."
"It is a failure of government to act based on sound and timely intelligence," he said.
What this expert, Rohan Gunaranta, fails to acknowledge is that the Philippines government did know and understand what was going on in Marawi but they deliberately chose to ignore it. It is not a case of being "an operational failure." It is much more nefarious. The government's failure to act, which Duterte admitted was due to his soft stance toward terrorists because of the peace talks with MILF, was designed to allow Marawi to happen as a pretext to implement martial law and begin the steps towards Duterte's stated goal of revolutionary government and a new constitution. The Senate's continual refusal to investigate the government's prior knowledge of the Marawi attack in the face of such overwhelming evidence and admissions constitutes a cover-up. Defense Secretary Lorenzna said the time for finger pointing and blame is past. Why does he not want an investigation? Because much of the blame would fall upon his shoulders.
Justice Secretary Aguirre still seeks to pin the blame of the Marawi attack on Duterte's political opposition despite the government's admission that they knew about the plans for the Marawi siege since April.
Even after it was proven false, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is sticking to his claim that a photo tagging opposition senators in the Marawi crisis is not fake news.
Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Aguirre said the information came from an intelligence report.
"Intelligence reports are news, not fake news, even if they're wrong," he insisted.Nowhere in this CNN article or in any other articles will you find any discussion that the government had prior knowledge of the Marawi attack. No journalists and no politicians are calling for ain investigation into this debacle. Not a single one. Not even the so-called opposition. This lack of accountability and the absence of anyone calling for an investigation into the prior knowledge of the Marawi attack is completely unconscionable and unaccountable and the only explanation is a cover-up at every level.
The siege of Marawi is not the end or the beginning. It is the continuation of what has been happening in Mindanao since the MUSLIMS had first contact with the Catholics. There will always be fresh young bodies to feed the conflict.
Jalil is one of hundreds of Muslim youths lured by Islamic State followers in Mindanao, a poverty-plagued southern island of the Philippines that governments in Southeast Asia fear could become a regional stronghold for the ultra-radical group as it loses territory in Syria and Iraq.
“The recruitment is now happening very, very rapidly,” said Banlaoi, who monitors mobilization in Mindanao via informants and police interrogation reports of militants.
“They’re very sophisticated. They are serious community organizers and serious recruiters.”
Schools, madrassas (Islamic schools) and even day-care centers with extremist leanings have been identified as recruiting grounds.
That last sentence is quite interesting. The question on many peoples minds has been: Who is funding the various terrorist groups? One possible source of funds could be through massive fraud within the school system.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri has proposed an overhaul of the system in which funds are released to public schools to prevent the proliferation of “ghost” students, like those uncovered in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Zubiri made the proposal following reports submitted to the Senate committee on finance that at least 207,884 ghost students were in the records of ARMM public schools from 2011 to 2016.
“A number of principals, [education] supervisors and teachers have been padding the rolls of students to get a bigger budget based on fake and inflated number of students,” Zubiri said
Hataman, in a text message, said he informed the senators that the problem about ghost students and ghost teachers in the region was serious and widespread.
“If I start filing cases against school heads and principals (involved in the scheme), in Lanao del Sur (for example), I am afraid (that) there will be no more principals (who will be) left. Or if there will be, just a few of them will remain,” Hataman said.
Where are these funds going? How much, if any, is finding its way into the hands of terrorists? These are serious questions worth pursuing. But not for Duterte. He already knows who is funding terrorism in Mindanao: narcopoliticians.
Presented to journalists on Friday, Duterte's new matrix named suspected drug lords among politicians, and indicated their supposed ties with drug dealers.
The matrix, Duterte said, explains "how they operated in the drug campaign in Marawi and the entire of Mindanao."
"You would say there that – malalaman mo na (you will know). That is the work of the intelligence for the last 3 months or two when we were able to penetrate the insides of the, the entrails of the city," he said.
It is best to take Duterte's drug matrix with a huge grain of salt. Especially after Dutere admitted this week that he lied about Trillanes' bank accounts. He could just be making up this alleged drug connection between Maute and so-called narcopoliticians. The funding of terrorism in Mindanao surely comes from a wide array of sources but it seems as if Duterte wishes to ignore them all except the ones which will allow him to justify his war on drugs. Who cares what the experts say?
Duterte has spoken and it's drugs, drugs, drugs which fuel terrorism in Mindanao. Forget about the whole multifaceted and messy truth.
Will this be the final week of the Battle of Marawi? If it is there will be no lifting of martial law just as there will be no victory celebration.
There would be no need for the country to celebrate once the besieged southern city of Marawi is liberated from ISIS-linked terrorists, President Duterte said on Thursday, as he ordered troops to leave the city “quietly.”
“It is a very sad incident in the life of a soldier. But I would insist that we also have… Not really a celebration because walang nanalo dito eh,” Duterte told reporters during his fifth visit to Marawi, adding that he prefers to hold a thanksgiving Mass instead.
No celebration? What a difference from President Estrada who threw a huge celebration in 2000 after the capture of Camp Abubakar from the MILF.“And sabi ko nga sa mga sundalo, ‘We will not have any celebration. After all has been said and done, we will just go out quietly.’ Pack their things and go home,” he added.
When he came to celebrate the fall of Camp Abubakar, Estrada brought trucks of lechon and cold beer to feed the conquering soldiers, a move denounced by devout Muslims who considered the place “a sacred ground for Islamic revival.” Even Catholic priests and the media criticized the lack of sensitivity on the part of the President’s party.
Of course now MILF is no longer a terrorist organisation but is actually a partner with Duterte in the war against ISIS!
For someone who is so bent on not offending Muslim sensibilities does Duterte not realise that holding a Mass would deeply offend Muslims more than anything? Giving thanks to Jesus for defeating the soldiers of Allah? This would play right into the hands of ISIS that this is a religious war. And it is a religious war. It's ISLAM versus the Catholics in Mindanao. If only Duterte realised this. The wilful ignorance of the religious nature of Islamic jihad is a fault he shares with every leader in the Western world.
If there is no victory celebration will Duterte at least remember his promises and bring celebrities for the soldiers to "gently touch" and send the ladies on a free trip to Hong Kong?