DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 October) – Business leaders in Mindanao were all praises after President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared on Tuesday the “liberation” of Marawi City from the hands of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group after nearly five months of military operations.
Duterte’s announcement followed statements from the military that they have killed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, and that only a handful of their followers were straggling in the ruins of Marawi.
The Marawi crisis erupted last May 23 when Maute gunmen occupied portions of Marawi forcing government forces to engage in urban warfare in which they weren’t trained for.
In a text message to MindaNews, Mindanao Business Council (MBC) chair Vicente T. Lao said thousands of displaced families will finally “enjoy the blessings of peace”.
“Now, we can start the rehabilitation of Marawi,” he said.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go echoed the same elation with hopes that it would be a “unifying moment for all to bring about the growth and development in the country”.
“It is unfortunate that there are those who cannot seem to look beyond their previous affiliations and prioritize the welfare of our country,” he said.
DCCCII trustee Arturo Milan said he wishes that the victims can start rebuilding their lives.
Milan said he hopes the siege will be the last such challenge for the country so that it may attain peace and prosperity.
The Eastern Mindanao Command directed its units to intensify security operations to prevent possible reprisal by other Maute members following the death of Hapilon and Omar Maute.
In a press release, Lt Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, EastMinCom commander emphasized the need to “strengthen border security as a proactive measure to prevent the terrorists from using it as their mobility corridor”.
“We recognize the importance of the support coming from the populace. We therefore ask everyone to be vigilant and to report to the authorities any suspicious activities in their respective communities,” he said.
Wake up call
In a statement, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto said the Marawi siege is a wake-up call that they should focus back on the “immediate, historic and systemic shift to a federal system of government that is seen to stop recurrence of terrorism.”
Alonto praised President Duterte for his “courage, inexhaustible patience, perseverance, and steadfastness and the soldiers and police officers in exterminating the leaders and misguided elements who espoused an anti-Islamic, anti-Christ and perverse ideology that brought havoc, destruction and inhuman suffering the people of Marawi.”
“May God bless the souls of those who died in innocence, and of those men in uniform who fought for us and our homeland. In their memory, let us cherish this moment of triumph of good over evil,” he said.
As part of Task Force Bangon Marawi, Alonto said they are more than ready for the greater task of putting normalcy back in the embattled city by banking on their mandate to aggressively push for inter-regional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects that will spur economic activities in Marawi and its nearby provinces.
“In the light of the President’s declaration of the liberation of Marawi, we stand with him with our prayers that GOD preseve him in excellent health, the best of wisdom and strength in reconstruction and rebuilding of Marawi City and other war-torn areas in Mindanao,” he said.
Alonto thanked the Filipino people as well as the international community for showing concern amid the challenges and asked for more help in rebuilding the people’s lives.
“To the loved ones of those who have fallen, let us not abandon them,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)