The deaths of Isnilon Hapilon, Omarkhayam, and Abdullah Maute concluded the Marawi crisis. Though a handful of enemy fighters may have escaped during the early days of the crisis, the deaths of their leaders left a vacuum in their organization.
There is no doubt that extremists and other terrorist groups will exploit the destruction of Marawi City. They will use the grievances of the IDPs to recruit others to their cause. Violent extremists may portray Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts as martyrs and heroes and glorify their deeds to inspire future terrorist fighters.
Thus, the post-Marawi crisis will also be a battle of narratives. This makes IO more important and definitely relevant; it emphasizes and stresses the need to sustain our gains in the information environment that were established during the crisis, to give tribute to the sacrifices of all those who served in the five-month-long campaign to liberate Marawi City and to show our gratitude to the people who showered us with their support during the hard-fought battle. We emerged triumphant in the battle, but we must sustain our efforts to counter the enemy’s propaganda and maintain our strategic and moral victory. These efforts are all geared towards defeating violent extremism so that peace can prosper and our people can continue to live without fear.
There is no specific nor universal strategy for defeating terrorism. It evolves, adapts, and shifts along with the technological advancements of our time. Therefore, we need to continuously upgrade and improve our capabilities to be a step ahead of them. Eternal vigilance is the price for our country’s liberty.
(This entry is part of Chapter 5: Operational Environment of the Future.)