Arabic AR Chinese (Simplified) ZH-CN English EN French FR German DE Japanese JA Portuguese PT Russian RU Spanish ES Ukrainian UK

Long road ahead for Marawi rebuilding as fighting ends

Latest news

    Locals said “historical injustices” should be blamed for the rise of armed groups in Mindanao [File: Reuters]

    The Philippine government has officially declared an end to the siege in the southern city of Marawi, ending five months of heavy clashes against ISIL-linked fighters and paving the way to recovery for a town left with more than $1bn worth of destruction.

    Defence chief Delfin Lorenzana made the announcement on Monday, just hours after troops found the bodies of the last 42 fighters belonging to an armed alliance that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

    Delays in peace talks between Philippine government and MILF ‘creating discontent’

    “The Philippine security forces, aided by its government and the massive support of the Filipino people have nipped the budding infrastructure and defeated terrorism in the Philippines,” Lorenzana said.

    He made the comments during a meeting of regional defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) north of the capital, Manila.

    Lorenzana said that while the end of the clashes “will not annihilate the [fighters’] ideology”, it signalled the importance of regional cooperation in the fight against the “proliferation of terrorism” in the Philippines and its neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. 

    ‘Only the first step’

    More than 1,000 combatants, including foreign fighters, as well as civilians were killed in the fighting, which also displaced as many as 600,000 people in and around Marawi

    Zia Alonto Adiong, governor of Lanao del Sur province which has Marawi as its capital, said that while thousands of displaced residents are “rejoicing” at the prospect of going home, they should “not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead”.

    “Achieving this victory does not mean the end of threats. Life is never free of dangers,” he said in a statement to the media. 

    “We must recognise that the end of this war is only the first step toward building the peace.”

    The siege of Marawi started on May 23, when security forces tried to serve an arrest warrant against Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf armed group.

    Since the death of the commanders of Abu Sayyaf and the Maute armed groups, Marawi evacuees have attempted to have some normalcy in their daily lives [Getty]

    Instead of giving up their arms, Hapilon and his fighters formed an alliance with the local Maute Group – led by Omarkhayam Maute and his brothers – and took over the city by Lake Lanao.

    Marawi’s capture prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law for the entire island of Mindanao.

    At that time, the Philippine military insisted that ISIL had no presence in the country, contradicting Duterte’s pronouncements that the attack “has long been planned” and was “purely ISIS”.

    It had also been widely reported that both the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute fighters had pledged allegiance to ISIL.

    When the conflict started, the army vowed to end it within weeks, in a military campaign that included air raids.

    It repeatedly set deadlines which, however, were missed and the clashes eventually lasted for five months – one of the longest active armed rebellions in the country.  

    Then, on October 16, government troops reached a breakthrough when soldiers stormed a hideout and killed Hapilon and Maute. A day later, Duterte declared the city “liberated”, even as sporadic fighting continued. 

    ‘Rebuilding our lives’

    Philipinnes’ government estimates that it will need up to $1.1bn to rebuild Marawi.

    In a statement to Al Jazeera, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino, a member of the Marawi rehabilitation committee in Congress, urged the national government, local Muslim leaders and civic leaders to work to “rebuild and create prosperity in the city”.

    “We fully support efforts to rehabilitate Marawi City and to bring normalcy and prosperity into the lives of Maranao families,” he said referring to the dominant Muslim ethnic group in the area.

    Battle for Marawi: Conflict takes toll on local economy

    Mikee Pantaran Maruhom, a student leader and a Maranao, said the end of the fighting is bittersweet for members of his extended family, whose houses in Marawi were destroyed by “government air strikes”.

    “The Marawi siege did not only affect Marawi residents, but also the entire Maranao community,” he told Al Jazeera. 

    “For me, it is a great relief. I think my relatives who lost their homes also feel the same way. We can now actually move on to the next phase, which is rebuilding our lives,” he said. 

    But like other Maranaos previously interviewed by Al Jazeera, Maruhom said the central government in Manila should address the root cause of the problem in Marawi, which is poverty and alienation.

    View the original article:

    Shidik Abantas, a lawyer at Marawi’s Mindanao State University, had said the rise of “extremism” in Mindanao “is not really caused by the ISIS in the Middle East. It is mostly caused by the historical injustices that continue to this day.”


    In the same category are

    Colombia presidential election: What to expect Colombian presidential candidates Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo and Ivan Duque, take part in a presidential debate at El Tiempo newspaper in Bogota ...
    All eyes on Salah and Ronaldo ahead of Champions League final Salah has scored 10 goals in the tournament so far this season, compared to Ronaldo's 15 Fans are gathering in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the b...
    Reform in Saudi Arabia: Image versus reality On The Listening Post this week: The jailing of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia makes the story of reform in the kingdom harder to tell. Plus...
    Anglophone activists convicted of ‘terrorism’ in Cameroon The Anglophone secessionist movement had triggered counter protests by the country's Francophone community A court in Cameroon has sentenced seven ...
    Tiger turf wars in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans The Sundarban mangrove forest in western Bangladesh is one of the last havens for the endangered Bengal tiger. With only 100 tigers thought to be rema...
    Indigenous Guatemalan woman shot dead by US Border Patrol Dominga Vicente shows a picture of her relative Claudia Gomez Immigrant rights groups across the United States have condemned the killing of a youn...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *