On May 23, armed clashes between the Maute Group and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) jolted Marawi City, leaving in its wake the destruction of various government-owned and private establishments. With the threat of terrorism looming in Mindanao, the Local Government Units (LGUs), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have pulled out various security measures.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno supports the President’s Martial Law declaration covering the whole island of Mindanao for a period of 60 days. “This declaration is a decisive and focused move, meant to finally bring lasting peace and harmony in Mindanao,” said Moreno in an interview with Oro City Social Welfare and Development Department. Additionally, Moreno has issued a red alert warning throughout the city. This entails various checkpoints and strengthened military presence throughout the city.

Local Terrorists

“Safety is everyone’s concern,” Fourth Infantry Division Public Affairs Chief Captain Joe Patrick Martinez emphasizes in an interview.

Physical pressure and propaganda warfare, according to Martinez, are the two instruments fundamental to the local terror group’s cause. The former is evident in their constant harassment and fearmongering among communities. Propaganda warfare, on the other hand, is sensationalizing their crimes on social media and other information channels.

The mentioned tools then target two objectives: mass fear and international recognition by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) – from which their cause is inspired. This international support, which has to be claimed through wreaking large-scale havoc, then becomes a gateway for the ultimate goal of money and power to strengthen their control over the region.

Resistance

However, Martinez reports that Marawi City was attacked only by the dispersed remnants of the Maute Group. “We want the people to understand that the First Infantry Division, PNP, and LGUs are already on top of the situation,” Martinez explains in Tagalog. In order to prevent their wave of terror from spreading, the military is strengthening the boundaries of Lanao del Sur to ensure that they are not trespassed by hostile groups.

He highlights that they condemn the terrorist vision and are doing their best to contain them. “We ask the people to be responsible enough in posting such information na hindi verified,” he says. The least thing they need would be highly-publicized information on the group’s acts which is the amount of attention the Maute Group needs to reach ISIS. In order to prevent this from happening, he adds that the people must put their faith in the government and military during these situations. Martinez attests that they are fully confident in their fight against this threat to security.

People Power

In these challenging times, Martinez advices the public to remain calm and continue with their routines, however everyone must wear an armor of vigilance. In addition, Martinez noted that one must avoid disclosing the operations of the army in their resistance against the terrorists through social media as it could potentially hamper their progress.