It has been three weeks since the ISIS affiliated group, Maute, set foot in Marawi, Philippines and claimed to take over the city. Up to this day, the country’s armed force still strive to seize back the city. The president, Rodrigo Duterte, has set two deadlines for the army to take back Marawi and defeat the radical group but turns out the battle still continues.
Duterte has been criticized for neglecting the fact that a radical group is growing in its country and keep focusing on the nation’s war on drugs. Many parties have judged that Marawi take over by Maute group is the result of the president’s persistence of not putting adequate attention on the radical group.
As a matter of fact, even though Maute has claimed their affiliation to ISIS and the radical’s group flag is raised everywhere in the city, Duterte still thinks that the siege of Marawi has nothing to do with the religious extremist group. Instead, it is a part of the country’s rebellious group effort to control drug money and hinder the progress of the president’s war on drugs.
When the siege was launched three weeks ago, Duterte immediately declared martial law in the area and reports suggested that the martial law can be expanded to the whole country if the situation calls for it. Most of the people in the city have escaped but currently, there are still 1,000 citizens trapped in the middle of the battle between the radical group and the Philippines army.
The armed force is trying their best to defeat the Maute militants without harming the citizens but there are currently no reports whether the army has prepared any efforts on how to help the citizens flee the besieged city. By last Saturday, 20 civilians and more than fifty army personnel have fallen victim to the battle.
While there is no doubt that the government and the army is doing their best to bring peace to Marawi again, there is a confusion regarding the status of US military assistance in this case. Previously, Duterte has stated that he did not need any foreign assistance to take care of the situation. However, it is reported that the US aircraft has arrived in the archipelago to help Philippines army combat the Maute group.
Duterte said that he has never made any request of assistance to the US forces and that he was not aware of the US aircraft arrival until they have arrived. The president claimed that he never approached the US government to ask for help. It might have any relation with his strained relation with the USA after the states criticized his war on drugs that have killed so many people. But Duterte and US relations have actually gotten better after Obama left the office and replaced by Donald Trump.
Contrary to what Duterte said, US embassy in Manila has stated that the military assistance has been requested by Philippines government. However, according to the presidential spokesperson, US contribution is only limited to technical assistance and the US troops are not joining the battle.