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Federalism test case

The siege would have been a compelling reason for the Federalism push in which autonomy of political divisions is a central ingredient



Shattered main tower of the Marawi Grand Mosque stands as a mute witness to the savage battle fought between Islamic State supporters and state troopers in 2017.

Four years after the Marawi City siege of Islamic State (IS)-backed militants led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, the urban center in Mindanao is now picking up the pieces.

Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, also Task Force Bangon Marawi chair, said the rehabilitation of Marawi City will be complete by December that will enable all its residents to rebuild their lives.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing for Federalism since the start of his term, a shift in government that would have been of great benefit in Muslim Mindanao.

Two clear takeaways were realized in the aftermath of the deadly assault of the extremists, who wanted to turn the city into an IS caliphate that would be their springboard for an ambitious goal of dominating Southeast Asia. These are: Nations can’t put their guard down on extremism, and the opportunity for long-term change through Federalism may have been squandered.

On 23 May 2017, the first acid test on the Duterte administration happened after armed extremist groups occupied Marawi City. It took five months for security forces to liberate the urban center but not after serious losses of lives and properties.

The siege would have been a compelling reason for the Federalism push in which autonomy of political divisions is a central ingredient.

A federal government that will allow a wide latitude of autonomy would have benefited the Bangsamoro region that includes Marawi City.

New roads are built throughout the city which are crucial for trade and commerce to resume.

The IS sympathizers’ invasion of Marawi City provided the nation with a bird’s-eye view of the problems besetting the whole of Mindanao.

Government-built houses rise, many as temporary shelters for displaced residents.

President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged the urgency of the problem through the declaration of martial law in the southern region that lasted for two-and-a-half years.

Soldiers scan a former battlefield where a road and a few buildings have sprouted.

Marawi City has been reborn, but the situation in the Muslim regions remains ripe for the problem to periodically recur as Congress missed the opportunity to legislate an effective deterrent though the Federal shift.