MANILA, Philippines — Although the battle is not yet over, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to declare on Tuesday the liberation of Marawi City from the influence of terrorists.
This was after government troops killed terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
“I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation. Huwag na natin itong ulitin kailanman (Let us not have a repeat of this ever),” said President Duterte.
But for peace and security expert Prof. Rommel Banloi, it is still early to say that Marawi City is already terror-free.
“The liberation of Marawi was declared considering the fact that the clearing operations in areas of Marawi City are ongoing, fights are still happening. In fact, as we speak now, the battle is continuing,” said the expert.
One proof he said are the many residents who still cannot go back to their homes. Their situation has not changed, as well.
It is also possible that President Duterte, in haste, declared the liberation of Marawi City after the military failed to miss the deadline several times.
“The government may have been forced to declare liberation, though its premature because that kind of situation has been anticipated for a long time,” said the professor.
Malacañang respects the statement of Banlaoi.
However, the palace said that the declaration of the President is a strategic message.
The government also believes the recovery of the city can now proceed.
“As it has been reported and announced, this was a strategic message and technically the leadership has been neutralized and whatever forces that are left are non-significant. And it has been referred to should be a matter of police enforcement, so from the perspective of the government. Everything is aligned and on the road to recovery,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue