For several days now, we have been preoccupied with the hellish state in Marawi. The beautiful Islamic City abandoned by its residents who were stunned by the macabre of events following the sudden rise of Maute terrorists which we now realize had a full backing of the dreadful ISIS. The city is now in rubbles as the extremist terror band kept their erstwhile vantage position. They came prepared, well-stocked, well-armed and hankering for blood of infidels. This is no longer a simple urban war. The armed forces have to bomb them to smithereens.
I too am stunned. How can one who lives next to the network of tunnels not notice when the Mautes and their foreign collaborators were digging the bunkers and then stocked these with weapons and supplies? When I think of answers and possibilities I tremble in dread. The only consolation here is that there was madness that pervaded amongst the Mautes and the ISIS when they thought they had in their control and persuasion the population of the Islamic capital in the Philippines. There was insanity when they came out in the open and sow terror the manner they do in the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): decapitating and disemboweling Christians who had been living with their Muslims neighbors all these decades. They thought that having established those tunnels and controlled the minds of the few, with so little resistance Marawi had become their virtual breeding ground or more aptly their caliphate.
But they were wrong. When they brandished their weapons and executed the few that they caught up with, the Muslims protected the Christians. They angered the people of Marawi and they are now facing the unrelenting military actions against them. The order of President Rodrigo Duterte: No negotiation just extermination of the domestic and foreign terrorists that are still holding their fortress in Marawi. The bombing of the terrorist strongholds goes on without letup. There is no telling when will this end but for certain it will continue until the last Maute man standing is dead.
This is one horrible scene. The other battle arena is in the Supreme Court. Led by Congressman Edcel Lagman, the one accused by a Catholic Bishop for plunder, and a human rights lawyer who was trounced in his bid to become Senator, Neri Colmenares, were fighting tooth and nail to have martial law lifted in Mindanao. This they do as our soldiers valiantly fight to keep Mindanao and the rest of the country safe.
The political opposition it seems, have a vague notion about what is going on in Marawi and how will the Mautes and the ISIS terrorists bring their acts of terror in the heartland of Metro Manila if they are not contained and finished off in Marawi. As the city burn and some of our soldiers die, the political opposition simply ignores the raging war.
President Duterte had been in the frontline and saw our soldiers courageously fighting the enemy. When some of them fell in battle he was the first to come and condole with the bereave families and spent sleepless nights with them in the wake of his men. When suddenly the President went missing, the opposition cannot hide their glee. What kind of political animals have we bred?
Amidst the anguish not a single political opposition was compassionate enough to comfort the family of our fallen soldiers. They may not have condemned our soldiers for obeying the orders of their commander in chief but their body language shows it all. And the height of callous disregard is exemplified by the Vice President Leni Robredo who, as the caskets of our dead soldiers were unloaded in the plane, hied off quickly to America for some social functions. Her publicists dubbed it fundraising. What a contrast. They imbibed to their bones how their idol, ex-President Noynoy Aquino exemplified, when the coffins of SAF 44 which were draped in Philippine flags were unloaded from C140 in the air base in Pasay City. Aquino was not there. And then we hear a brief and shocking repartee from him: “namatayan din ako ng ama”.
Duterte cries unabashedly with the wives and children of the fallen soldiers; in sharp contrast Robredo was somewhere on a fund raising mission? Was it the PR guru Charlie Agatep who has a quip for that? “Eh d’ Wow”!
And now, like Lazarus, Duterte emerged re-energized and in the top fighting form. As I said and warned in my previous column, be wary of what Duterte will do next when he is missing. And did I hear him say that if the Supreme Court will give credence to what Lagman and Colmenares argue to have martial law lifted in devastated Marawi and threatened Mindanao, he will not hesitate in re-imposing the same in the entire country. He will not consult anyone anymore but, as a leader of this country, will impose martial law the extent of which will be the same as what Marcos did. Did this draw any vehement objection from the public? If there was the mainstream media should have made a fiesta out of it. But if there was any it was pipsqueak. Take it from the Grab car driver who took me to the airport from my hotel to NAIA-2 for my flight back to Davao City.
“Sana yong martial law sa Mindanao pinalawak na sa buong Pilipinas para matigil na lahat nong nangugulo sa atin. Saka sir di ba mas mabilis ang paggawa ng mga infrastructura kasi si Presidente Duterte nalang ang magdesisyon kung may martial law? Madali ang solusyon sa bawat problema, di ba sir?”. Makes sense.
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)