Military ready for another siege similar to Marawi, official says
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready for a siege similar to Marawi City, an official said on Friday.
Joint Task Force Ranao deputy commander Colonel Romeo Brawner made the assurance following the warning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim that terrorists in Mindanao might attack Iligan City or Cotabato City, especially if the government fails to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
"Well of course from our experience from the Marawi siege, we are preparing for another urban warfare. In the eventuality that something similar to Marawi City happens, we should be ready," he said in the "Bangon Marawi" briefing in Malacanang.
"So from the lessons that we learned, we are now rewriting our doctrines. We are now reorganizing our units. We are re-equipping and retraining. So from the side of the Armed Forces, we are for another Marawi siege whether it happens in Marawi or elsewhere," he added.
Brawner also urged different groups, such as the MILF, to help in the military's advocacy to counter violent extremism and radicalism.
"And of course we are banking on the MILF to help us with this. They said that they do not believe in violent extremism. We hope that they will help us in this campaign or in our advocacy against violent extremism, terrorism and radicalism," he stressed.
Murad, in a forum early this week with the foreign press, warned that another Marawi siege might take place if Congress would not pass the BBL.
He said Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Mindanao could use the failure to pass the BBL to recruit young Moros.
"Our failure to pass the BBL in 2015-2016 led to the birth of the now infamous Maute Group that ultimately led the Marawi siege," Murad said.
"While it is clear that the ISIS do not care about our national liberation agenda as they are in pursuit of jihad on global scale or everywhere, the frustration and resentment of the people especially the young over the apparent failure to implement signed peace agreements is blinding them from discerning the real motives of these extremists," he added.
In the same briefing, Office of the Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Toby Purisima said the government has completed the assessment in Marawi and surrounding Lanao del Sur towns affected by the siege and around P51.6 billion will be needed for their reconstruction.
"Based on the assessment results, the total damages amount to approximately 11.5 billion pesos; losses amount to more or less 6.7 billion pesos; and the total needs for the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City costs approximately 51.6 billion pesos," he said.
"These amounts cover Marawi City and other affected areas in the municipalities of Butig and Piagapo in Lanao Del Sur. The PCNA ( post conflict needs assessment) will also be the basis for the development and the implementation of the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Program or BMCRRP," Purisima said. Celerina Monte/DMS