Editorial cartoon by Ed Rompal

So, the fighting in Marawi has not really stopped even as President Duterte has declared the liberation of the war-torn Islamic City.

Last week, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne committed to send small contingents of Australian soldiers to train Philippine troops in defending themselves against terrorist threats.

Although Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that our local forces need to work with experienced Australian troops on strategic fighting the foreign soldiers will not be part of the actual battle should attacks occur.

Dubbing the partnership as “a practical training”, this includes a range of urbn combat skills, reconnaissance and information and practice sharing. Australian soldiers have had decades of experience in fighting in the Middle East.

While the Royal Australian Air Force surveillance aircraft are already operating in the southern Philippines, Australian Navy will be sending ships to help develop other skills the Philippines Navy may need to employ.

The six-month urban fighting with and attacks by the Maute Group were incessant from both ends with the soldiers gaining advantage with plane artillery. This left certain barangays in Marawi totally devastated.

Maute, local arm of the international terrorist group, ISIS, is led by Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers, Omar and Abdullah. They fought tooth and nail with local soldiers brutally and deliberately killing Christians. The Maute Group is Muslim. So are majority of residents in Marawi. They abhor Christians so much and killed them on site. 

Marawi residents, who are predominantly Muslims, said the Maute’s actuation is contrary to the Islam conviction who are peace loving. What the Maute is inculcating to recruited members is not within the Islam teachings, they claim. 

What’s worse? Maute leaders heavily indoctrinate their teen warriors: “If you don’t pull the trigger, they will kill you.” 

Debriefing captured Maute youth is one of the biggest challenges for the Philippine Government, not just the retraining of ground troops. 

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Saturday, 24 February 2018
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