Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 7): War in Marawi: Widespread destruction and huge damages on the people
The war ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s against the so-called Maute Group is bringing about the tremendous destruction of Marawi City and the people’s lives and livelihood.
The AFP-PNP launched the war in Marawi following Duterte’s imposition of martial law in the whole Mindanao last May 23 because of the supposed occupation of the city by the said group. At the time of his martial law imposition, Duterte was visiting Russia where one of his objectives was to request modern weapons purportedly to fight groups connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Duterte has repeatedly linked the Maute Group to the ISIS despite previous refutations by the military and police regarding such information.
The Duterte regime poured up to 4,000 armed troops to counter the Maute Group, whose reported number varies daily (starting at 20, to 50, 100 and which recently has already become 250-500, according to the AFP). The AFP and PNP deployed their troops from the 1st ID of the Philippine Army, the Philippine Marines, Philippine Air Force and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force. Aside from armoured personnel carriers, these employ more than 30 helicopters and planes that conduct non-stop bombardment of the city.
But more than any damage against the Maute Group, the civilians, their properties and civilian infrastructure are the ones being destroyed by the bombs. The AFP reported last June 2 that up to 188 individuals, including 30 civilians, have already died. It is made to appear that 120 of those who were killed were members of the Maute Group, although there is wide skepticism that many of these were civilians.
Since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the AFP has launched daily bombardment every two hours. The AFP has been adamant in claims that they have been successful with their “surgical strikes” and that no civilians were hit. This, in the face of widespread assertions by residents that it is the civilians, their homes and civilian structures which are being hit and destroyed by the AFP’s bombs. No less than the city government and the Marawi Crisis Committee have called for a stop to the bombings early on in the war. Likewise, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, resigned from her post because of the bombings and the martial law declaration. Bombardments were suspended only when the AFP’s bombs killed ten of their soldiers and wounded seven others.
Meanwhile, ground troops of the AFP have no regard to the civilians’ safety. Civilians are in danger of the AFP and PNP scouring the city’s streets and residential areas. Those caught in the middle of the war are accused of being members of Maute Group and are treated with cruelty. Shattered homes and civilian structures are all over—bullet-ridden, burned or razed to the ground. There is also evidence from residents and officials of the local government of the soldiers’ looting of valuables and properties of Marawi residents.
The war has affected Marawi’s whole population of more than 200,000. The city is one of the largest in terms of Moro population and is regarded as the center of Islam in Mindanao. More than 90% of the population had evacuated, while the lives of those left behind are in peril. Many of those who fled were able to take along only a few belongings. They face grave lack of food and drinking water in evacuation centers, aside from medical needs and decent habitation. The AFP has also prohibited civic organizations to distribute relief goods, and insisted that the soldiers be the ones to hand them out.
Last June 2, up to 700 evacuees have fallen ill. Most vulnerable among the victims of the war are the elderly, the sick and an estimated 55,000 children. Also affected is the education of 20,000 students, as they have no schools to go to because of the bombardment of Marawi. According to officials of Lanao del Sur provincial government, there has never been such terrible evacuation of Marawi’s residents even during the 1970s.
Meanwhile, thousands of people seeking shelter are stuck in checkpoints set up to restrain the free movement of residents who are fleeing danger. Here, the people of Marawi are subjected to intense scrutiny because of suspicion that they are members of Maute Group. Those already in evacuation centers, and even ordinary civilians, experience discrimination for being Moros.
According to the group Suara Bangsamoro, the resolution of the people’s unrest in Mindanao is related to the issue of ancestral domain of the Moros and Lumads, and their long-running oppression. Likewise, the propagation of Islamophobia, which portrays Islam as a religion of violence, must be condemned. Instead, attention must be given to the damages on Moro people brought about by the war.
Also, the Moro people have the capability to resolve contradictions among their ranks. Negotiations between Moro leaders and the members of Maute Group will not prosper as long as the AFP and PNP continue with their military operations and bombardments.
[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at www.philippinerevolution.info. Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]