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Triumph of will



If the bus hostage-taking crisis of 23 August 2010 was an acid test for the then nascent administration of President Benigno Aquino, the Marawi City siege that started 25 May 2017 was the trial for the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The final outcome of the two events were vastly different in which Aquino showed total incompetence on the crisis he faced resulting in the death of nine captives of a deranged policeman while Mr. Duterte gets international plaudits for acting resolutely to end the Islamic State (IS) occupation of the Mindanao urban center swiftly.

The Marawi City invasion was compared to the IS occupation of Iraq and Syria that took the United States-led coalition more than five years to end while Mr. Duterte only needed five months to do the same.

What made the difference was political will.

Mr. Duterte was quick in his decision to impose martial law in the entire Mindanao that led to his critics not used to decisiveness to conclude that the Maute group-led incursion to Marawi City as staged and an excuse to declare military rule.

As the days wear on and the IS atrocities worsened, it became obvious that the siege was intended to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate as the terrorists’ influence in the Middle East started to wane when its occupied area diminished amid the relentless attack of the Western alliance.

The Maute Group tried to turn its fortune by declaring a religious war against the “Christian Crusaders”, who are the soldiers deployed to wipe them out, and called on all jihadists to converge in the Mindanao battlefield.

Many responded and the campaign took a frightening turn in which a foreign army of an undetermined number have reinforced the local bandits of the Mautes and Abu Sayyaf group.

In the final analysis, the snap decision of Duterte was what turned the situation around as the martial law imposition allowed the security forces to cut the flow of reinforcements and supplies to the IS terrorists.

Legislators, including some yellow obstructionists, admitted the necessity of military control over the region.

Martial rule in Mindanao persists which residents of the region hail as having brought public order that they have long sought.

Mr. Duterte’s quick decision and resolute actions were hailed by international leaders as having stopped what could have been a threat to stability not only in to the country but the whole Asian region.

The disconnect of the former regime would have resulted into a disaster for half of the planet had the IS attack happened a year earlier.