The combined efforts of the entire AFP, together with the PNP and the PCG personnel, complemented our efforts in fighting the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group in Marawi City.
The Fleet-Marine units under the leadership of the Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, were composed of the Marine Battalion Landing Teams (MBLTs) and elements of the Marine Special Operations Group (MARSOG) from the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), under the leadership of MGen Emmanuel Salamat, and subsequently, BGen Alvin Parreño. Naval Task Units, elements of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) and the PN Naval Aviation Group (PN NAG), provided us with the additional forces needed in Marawi City.
The JTG Tiger, headed by BGen Custodio Parcon Jr and eventually by BGen Melquiades Ordiales Jr, fought alongside us. The joint nature of the operations was not only limited to combat engagement. The PN supported us by delivering from Luzon the additional armored vehicles and supplies we needed through their strategic sealift vessels. Naval aviation assets were also critical in delivering rocket fire against our designated targets.
Philippine Air Force
The Philippine Air Force (PAF), under the leadership of Lt Gen Edgar Fallorina, performed battlefield air interdiction, close air support, air mobility, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), transport, and logistic flight operations utilizing their rotary and fixed-wing assets. Specific units involved were the following: 3rd Air Division (now the Tactical Operations Command) under MGen Domingo Palisoc, 5th Fighter Wing under Col Fabian Pedrogosa, 15th Strike Wing under BGen Pelagio Valenzuela, 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing under BGen Randy Tibayan, and 220th Airlift Wing under BGen Stephen Parreño.
Our ground operating troops, together with the Philippine Forward Air Controllers (PFAC) and ALO, were able to provide the pilots with timely and accurate information on target locations. The most laudable contribution of the PAF during the crisis was the sorties flown by the FA-50s, OV-10s, AW109, and SF260s, which became vital in softening up the enemy positions in Marawi City. Aside from CAS missions, they also performed airmobile operations that transported troops and supplies for deployment in Marawi City. Likewise, rotary wing assets were instrumental in the immediate airlift of our wounded soldiers.
Philippine National Police
The Philippine National Police (PNP), under the leadership of Police Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, provided assistance and support to us in the liberation of Marawi City. JTG PNP, headed by Police Senior Superintendent Rolando Anduyan, included units from the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), PNP ARMM Regional Office, Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), PNP Lanao del Sur Provincial Office, Marawi City Police Office, and the PNP Maritime Units. The SAF and RPSB units were at the MBA, fighting alongside us. Aside from fighting on the ground in Marawi, police units were also at Lake Lanao. In certain instances, the SAF units had special equipment and operating skills that complemented our operations. These included caliber .50 machine guns with tripod mounts and automatic grenade launchers. Laudable were the efforts of the PNP in their law enforcement operations during the crisis and the personnel they sent to aid us in conducting our CMO activities, as well as their female contingent for the Hijab Troopers.
Philippine Coast Guard
The Philippine Coast Guard, under the leadership of Rear Admiral Joel Garcia, provided us with additional capabilities in securing the historical Lake Lanao. PCG assets were positioned near the mouth of the Agus River. During the day, they monitored enemy movements attempting to escape via the Agus River. At night, their boats patrolled the lake. Radar systems on board their boats allowed us to monitor surface movements during the night. The combined water surface assets of the PCG and PNP deployed at Lake Lanao consisted of more than half of the water surface assets of JTG Lawa commanded by Col Monico Batle.
Our efforts, combined with those of the PN, PAF, PNP, and PCG, liberated the City of Marawi and saved the lives of many innocent civilians. Whether it was from the pilot’s seat, fighting on the front lines side by side with us, or guarding the waters in Marawi City, these personnel had provided the skills and capabilities that complemented our efforts in the liberation of the City of Marawi, and together, we defeated the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
To address the Marawi crisis, Martial Law was declared, and we utilized several facets of both the hard power and the soft power approaches. As the entire island of Mindanao came under the declaration, our soldiers remained committed to the enshrined human rights principles. We made sure to refrain from supplanting the LCEs. They continued to discharge their duties. This was particularly important in addressing the human dimension of the conflict. The use of the hard power approach allowed us to physically isolate, contain, and defeat the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group in Marawi City.
Through the hard power approach, we destroyed the enemy, cleared the MBA, and rescued the hostages. From the start, the Marawi crisis was a battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Thus, the soft power approach that we applied enabled us to isolate, contain, and morally defeat the enemy psychologically. Through it, we were able to gain public support and gain the legitimacy of our actions.
(This entry is part of Chapter 2: Marawi Crisis.)