By APD Writer Melo M. Acuna
**MANILA, May 29(APD) – ** Former legislators and military officials believe the Duterte Administration will attain the required tactical victory against the Maute and ISIS-inspired rebels who surprised Marawi City government officials and civilian residents after launching a broad daylight attack last Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Militants from the Maute group have planted black IS-style flags in parts of the city
Speaking at the weekly Tapatan sa Aristocrat, former Senator Rodolfo Biazon and National Security Adviser Secretary Roilo Golez said the government has enough resources to stop the illegal activities of what has been described as ISIS-inspired armed elements.
While both officials agreed the declaration of Martial Law all over Mindanao was in order to put a stop to glaring violations of Philippine laws, they said it behooves upon the government to see to it the conflict is resolved soonest and that normalcy return to the local residents’ lives.
Mr. Jose Antonio Custodio, a security analyst and military historian, said the needed tactical victory will be attained in a matter of days.
“There will be a lot of homework to attend to,” Custodio said.
He added the military solution seen in continuous military operations which included air strikes, will only be one solution to the many problems in the area.
“The Mindanao conflict has been viewed by some as the continuing rift between Moslems and Christians,” he said.
He added this is not the basic problem in southern Philippines.
Former Human Rights Commissioner Nasser A. Marahomsalic, said President Duterte’s move to introduce the federal form of government is a “step in the right direction.”
He explained the Bangsamoro to which he belongs would like to chart their own destiny by running their own government.
“The issues include political, economic, social and cultural concerns which could be addressed by a federal form of government,” Marahomsalic said.
He added the legislature should be able to perform its duties deliberating on proposals for the Federal Form of government.
While Mr. Biazon who served chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines believes the declaration was in the best interest of Marawi City residents, he said President Duterte should accomplish the mission of making the city and its environs safe, the chief executive should be able to do everything in order and that his decisions should not violate exisiting laws.
“When (President) Marcos declared Martial Law in September of 1972 to protect the country from communist, the NPAs only had 3,000 strong but when he was taken out of power in February 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino inherited some 26,000 Communist guerillas,” he said as he cautioned Mr. Duterte of a possible Constitutional crisis after he was quoted saying he would listen to the legislature nor the Supreme Court of the land, described as the country’s final arbiter.
Military historian Custodio said with President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law late last week, he fears the Armed Forces of the Philippines would once again be politicized.
He said such situation would make some military officials believe they are the true powers in the government.
In an interview with Brig. General Restituto Padilla, Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines’ spokesman, they have reported 61 casualties from the Maute – Abu Sayyaf Group, 42 of which were recovered while 19 others were reported by eyewitnesses.
“We were able to rescue 390 trapped Marawi City residents,” General Padilla said.
He added they were able to recover 19 civilians or non-combatants’ remains “who were mercilessly killed by the armed group.”
Asked of their priorities, he said their top priorities include clearing Marawi City of Maute/ASG elements, help rescue trapped individuals and recover casualties of the armed conflict.
Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, Marawi Prelature’s vicar general and 14 others remain under the custody of the Maute Group.
General Padilla said the local government has already taken the lead in efforts to have the hostages released.
Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Pena said he has already solicited the Bishop-Ulama Conference to help him secure the release of the 15 individuals from Maute custody.
No positive response has been received to this writing.
Officials at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to which Lanao del Sur is a province reported some 69,853 individuals as internally displaced persons, having fled Marawi City due to the fighting since Tuesday afternoon.
Bangsamoro people would like ro chart their own destiny. This was the message of former Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Nasser A. Marahomsalic during this morning's Tapatan sa Aristocrat.
Being a Maranao from Lanao del Sur, the site of military operations against the Maute/Abu Sayyaf Group, Marahomsalic said a lot of issues need to be addressed to bring peace to his region.
Federalism is one probable way to attain peace, he added.
Others in photo are former Senator and AFP Chief of Staff Rodolfo Biazon and former National Security Adviser Secretary Roilo Golez.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)