The emotional and psychological suffering will leave an indelible mark on the people of Marawi. Restoring this once citadel of co-existence between Muslims and Christians will take years. The rehabilitation of the damaged houses and buildings would need at least P50 billion, according to President Rodrigo Duterte, even as government troops are still doing mopping up operations against remnants of the Maute-ISIS group that laid siege to this once-bustling city of the South.
Comes now the word from Duterte himself that Islamic extremist activity is spilling over to other parts of Mindanao. According to military intelligence reports furnished the President, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, joined forces with splinter groups from the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. As in the siege of Marawi, these terrorists are backed by the dreaded international extremist ISIS which seeks to establish a caliphate in Asia.
If the unrest in Mindanao spills over to the urban areas in Cebu, Davao and Metro Manila, this could be reason enough for the President to place the entire country under martial law if the situation is not controlled. Lawlessness and rebellion are two of the elements for the imposition of martial law.
What is the implication of the monitored BIFF, MILF and MNLF activity in South Cotabato and Maguindano? It means that President Duterte did the right thing in declaring martial the martial law in Mindanao which Congress extended up to the end of the year.
The country observed the anniversary of the nearly 20-year imposition of martial law by former President Ferdinand Marcos last week. Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the architect and implementor of martial law, said the prevailing conditions now are much more challenging than during FM’s time. He cited the widespread problem of illegal drugs complicated by the involvement of local officials with crime syndicates. While the Muslim and communist rebellion were a serious threat in the Marcos years, it did not have the ISIS component behind the present Islamic unrest as shown in Marawi.
The vast and encompassing power of Marcos’ martial law was not encumbered by any restrictions although FM made sure its scope was still covered by law. Not so the present martial law which has been emasculated by the late President Cory Aquino who made sure martial law would only prevail for three months unless extended by Congress.
Marcos’ imposition of martial law was not an instant decision. The Marcos government calibrated its response to the prevailing political and security condition, proclaiming military rule only as a last recourse when the buildup of forces against the government hit its peak in the late sixties. The communist New People’s Army presence in the urban areas, including Metro Manila, emboldened the leftist student activists whose daily demonstrations and protest rallies getting violent. There was an instance the demonstrators were already at the gates of Malacanang but were driven back by loyal presidential security forces.
The failed landing of weapons from China proved to be the smoking gun Marcos needed to declare martial law. Stormy weather slammed the MV Karagatan causing crates of rifles to spill into the sea at Digoyo Point off the coast of Isabela. The discovery and seizure of the weapons ship from China changed the course of history . If the NPA were able to get hold of high powered AK 47 rifles, they would have been able to do battle with government troops in an urban warfare.
Marcos in effect saved the country from falling into communist hands. Yet the local chroniclers of history only wrote about the alleged abuses during the Marcos years Fake news existed then before the phrase was coined this year.