Social media played a key role for our forces during the Marawi crisis. It was a new frontier that we engaged in. From the beginning of the crisis up to its end, social media was one of our tools that helped engage the public and win their support for the campaign against the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group. It was through social media that the world first became aware of the crisis in Marawi City through posts of pictures of black flags flying around Marawi City and the raging inferno at Dansalan College. It was also through social media where images of the dead ISIS-Maute leaders first surfaced which signaled the end of enemy resistance in Marawi City.
Our Social Media Team worked round the clock. Its core was composed of the Tabak troopers. LT COL MICHAEL AQUINO, head of mobile training team, and Mr. Marlon Magtira, a consultant and trainer, held the workshop for the Tabak troopers with the support of COL WILLIAM GONZALES, the G8 of Philippine Army. Our guiding principle was to utilize appropriate words, acceptable actions, and powerful images in the products that we would upload online.
Our personnel posted online materials to inform the public of the events happening in Marawi City, this gained their support. We highlighted through social media how our personnel were fighting the enemy, and more importantly, how our soldiers were helping the displaced residents. These included activities that helped the IDPs in evacuation centers, daring rescue operations of trapped civilians, and various activities that we undertook with various stakeholders.
All forms of accounts advocating violent extremism on social media were monitored. Our personnel also joined in the discussions online to explain our side and counter the negative perceptions that netizens may have had concerning our actions in the Battle of Marawi.
The Civil Relations Service, AFP (CRSAFP) under the leadership of MGEN RONNIE EVANGELISTA, 4th Civil Relations Group (4CRG) commander LT COL MANNY GARCIS, and the social media sites of various army units, also helped us in increasing the reach of our social media products, and created digital materials as well to complement our efforts.
#SupportOurTroops in the Philippines commanded a huge following locally and internationally. People from all walks of life identified with this hashtag, and extended their support for the troops fighting it out for the liberation of Marawi City. The success of the hashtag was evident in several anecdotes that circulated on social media. It created a groundswell of support for our troops. Civilian sites appeared such as, Pinoy Para sa Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas, launched in early June of 2017. Donations in cash and in kind started pouring in for our troops and the IDPs.
Through the use of Information Related Capabilities (IRC), the tactical gains in Marawi City were translated into a strategic victory that resonated in the eyes, ears, and minds of the Maranaos and the Filipino people. It showed them that the government and its security forces were united and capable of defeating anyone who threatened our country and our way of life.
(This entry is part of Chapter 2: Marawi Crisis.)