MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the war with heavily armed local armed groups in Marawi City had exposed the shortcomings of the Philippine military in fighting terrorism. (READ: MARAWI: 153 days and more)
“Marawi is an eye opener. Marawi showed us how woefully inadequate our capablity is for this kind of problem,” Lorenzana said in the Asean Leadership Amid a New World Order forum held on Wednesday, November 8, in Makati City.
Terrorism is among the top security concerns that ASEAN leaders are expected to discuss in regional meetings in Vietnam and the Philippines this week.
Lorenzana said the Philippines had been in “denial mode” despite previous warnings against the spread of radical ideology in the region.
A faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group led by supposed Islamic State (ISIS) emir Isnilon Hapilon and young radicals led by the so-called Maute Brothers attacked Marawi in May in a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia.
The Philippine military received assistance from treaty allies US and Australia, which flew their P3 Orion surveillance planes to help locate the position of the enemies. (READ: Trump adviser hails global cooperation in Marawi)
Neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia also helped patrol shared borders to prevent the possiblity of ISIS sympathizers going to Marawi to join the war.
China and Russia – new allies of the Philippines – donated rifles.
The military declared the war over after 5 months, on October 23, after killing the leaders of the siege. Clashes continue on the ground, however, with stragglers that the military claims no longer pose a major threat.
The military has also started facilitating the return of Marawi residents to their homes.