Hail to the Chief *

DESPITE earlier differences of opinion with President Rodrigo Duterte, the United States hailed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for killing terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

As an ally, the US supported the military’s counter terrorism efforts in Mindanao by providing intelligence, surveillance, and technical assistance. It has also donated at least P730 million or $14.21 million in foreign assistance as of September 15 since the beginning of the siege on Marawi City.

Hapilon was the appointed emir of the dreaded Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Southeast Asia and leader of the band of criminals known as the Abu Sayyaf.

Omar was the brother of Abdullah Maute who was earlier killed in battle. They led the Maute group that launched the terror attack supported by ISIS and laid siege to Marawi.

Omar and Hapilon perished when government troops launched an assault operation on Monday, October 16, after almost five months of battling the terrorists in Marawi.

For those in doubt, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) already confirmed that the DNA sample taken from one of the bodies retrieved in Marawi matches that of Hapilon.

On October 17, President Duterte was cheered after declaring that Marawi City was liberated from terrorist influence.

A couple of days after that, the President confirmed that Mahmud Ahmad, the Malaysian terrorist who reportedly financed the Marawi siege with at least P30 million, was among the 13 fighters killed by the military earlier that day. The last 20 hostages were rescued by government forces on October 22.

Duterte should indeed be hailed for his determination to cut the head of the snake in the fight against terrorism with the deaths of Hapilon, Maute and Ahmad.

No other president can lay claim or boast that he crushed the Sayyaf and ISIS groups in such a way. The government has shown its determination to end the Marawi crisis despite the initial failure of intelligence that triggered the war.

Of course, Firing Line also salutes our military leaders and the brave soldiers on the ground, especially those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The government should make sure that the families of these fallen heroes are well taken care of. We owe them our deepest gratitude.

Rehabilitation has started in Marawi five days after its liberation. Civic organizations are encouraged to aid the government in its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts by providing assistance, financial or otherwise. Let’s help.

*              *              *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View.

* The opinion of this author/s is/are his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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