Marawi’s frontman

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2019 - 12:00am


During the Marawi Crisis, the efficiency of our community engagements strategically prevented a spillover to the adjacent municipalities and provinces. The existence of a strong community support network in support of our operations kept the mainstream perceptions and mindset away from the enemy narratives. We physically contained the area by controlling strongpoints and other vantage positions. We empowered key influencers including community and traditional leaders, as protectors of their constituents. They became force multipliers in preventing the terrorists from escaping from the main battle area. 

The physical and psychological isolation of Hapilon, the Maute brothers, and their followers were attributed to the active community participation that we enjoyed in our shared responsibility goals of maintaining peace and order and security.

We made sure that the affected communities fully understood the military’s intentions and actions on the ground. The war against terrorism requires the community’s involvement, their desire to rise above the crisis, and a commitment to realize our goals by providing them with a sense of shared responsibility in our joint pursuit for peace and prosperity. 

Secretary Bautista goes on by saying, every Filipino should be vigilant and proactive in dealing with terrorist-related threats. We must take full advantage of digital and social media as platforms for proactive information campaigns aimed at countering radical narratives and educating our vulnerable citizens to the dangers of embracing radicalism and extremism.

We have to eradicate extremist ideals by coming up with a strategy to counter violent extremism that might very well begin in our homes. Let us educate our children well on weighing the consequences of going at great lengths as regards to the spread of these twisted beliefs. 

Let us all try to do something good every day for our country and for our fellow Filipinos. If all of us do this, our country will be a better place to live in. As the Secretary further expounded on the importance of teaching and building peace, he explained that Marawi was in chaos because some people opted to do otherwise. He said that, in anything we do, let us always give our best because each one of us has a role to play. Whatever our role may be, we must always give it our 100 percent. We won in Marawi because all who served there gave his or her best for God and country. Every Filipino should always support our troops. Every Filipino should be proud of them because these brave men and women are willing to die for each and every Filipino and for their freedom. 

Finally, I bravely asked the kind Secretary a question that to me poses as my biggest responsibility in the area of communication as both a journalist and military reserve – a question that Secretary Bautista still remembers very vividly upon our serendipitous meet. The Philippines the Secretary said, is the only country we have so we must, therefore, love it. If one day, it will need your help, as a Filipino citizen, you should never hesitate to volunteer your assistance in any way you can. As a journalist, you should be responsible for getting the right information to the public by coordinating with any AFP unit to get the right information. As a reservist, you should be active in contributing your skills to provide assistance for any AFP/Army unit that may need your support. During the Marawi Crisis, I had an opportunity to work with three reservists who volunteered their skills, attributes, and knowledge in defeating the ISIS. These gentlemen are professional, dedicated and patriotic who demonstrated selflessness and love for country. Indeed, we are all tasked to do our parts by giving it our all. 

As the Secretary says, we all have our unique roles to play. In Spanish we say , “Dios, Patria y Familia” ... this is how we must love – and in order. It comes with much sacrifice. Love is that way whether we like it or not. But as the Army always says,  under HIS wings we though trust. 

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