EDITORIAL - Let us not forget the homegrown threats

The Freeman

Just recently, a Taguig City court found Ominta Romato Maute, also known as "Farhana Maute", guilty beyond reasonable doubt of terrorism financing and meted her with imprisonment from 17 years, four months and one day, up to reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years in prison.

Most of us may not have heard of the matriarch of the Maute Family in Marawi City, but she is also the mother of Abdullah Maute and Omar Maute, the leaders of the Maute group that captured Marawi City in 2017 along with the Abu Sayyaf faction of Isnilon Hapilon.

There is no doubt this is a victory; an affirmation that the government will go after those who seek to force their beliefs upon others, no matter how small their role is.

However, this development should also be seen as a reminder that not all threats to our sovereignty come from abroad; we also face homegrown threats as well.

Many may be loath to admit it, but it was our underestimation of local terrorists that led to the Marawi crisis. Nobody saw how a small military operation May 23, 2017 in Marawi City would blow up into what would become an attempt by terrorists to take over the entire city itself in the name of ISIS.

No one also saw how long it would last; five painful months, thanks to the twisted resolve of the terrorists.

We also didn’t see how long it would take for the city to rise from the ruins. Even years after the last shot had been fired by government forces in taking the city back from the terrorists, there was no official governing body empowered to begin rebuilding the city or to compensate the residents for everything they had lost.

It was a battle that people suffered from even long after the last shot had been fired.

This conviction may be a small victory but a victory nonetheless against those who want to spread terror.

The seventh anniversary of the Marawi crisis is just a few days away. But for many, the pain remains fresh as if it happened just yesterday. Let’s hope we have truly learned from what happened in Marawi so it will not happen again somewhere else in the Philippines.

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