Our application of the soft power approach during the crisis won the hearts and minds of the nation. It was manifested through the tremendous outpouring of support that we received from the affected communities and the general public. With the overwhelming support of the public, the legitimacy of our military operations against the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group in Marawi City was established. In doing so, we were able to fulfill our mandate to serve the Filipino people and protect the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.
We were able to convince and change the negative perception of the people towards the men and women in uniform. Decades of struggle accompanied by harbored resentments against the government and our soldiers were softened as they felt the genuine compassion of our soldiers for hostages, IDPs, and stakeholders affected by the crisis.
To agitate the people, the terrorists conjured allegations of corruption, injustice, and abuse purportedly done by the security forces. They exposed the atrocities of Martial Law in the ‘70s and likened the present declaration to that. They sowed disinformation and fomented black propaganda to discredit the government. Extremist teachings were used to rally support and gain recruits.
These were some of the challenges that we had to deal with together with those coming from the MBA. Our standard for achieving victory in Marawi City meant preserving human lives, physically destroying the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group, and preventing/defeating their extremist narratives to spare future generations from taking up their ideology. To optimize the soft power approach, we facilitated and established support for our objectives, legitimized the government actions in Marawi City, and countered violent extremist narratives.
We applied the soft power approach during the Marawi crisis across all the levels of army operations: strategic, operational, and tactical levels. On the tactical level, we applied it within the MBA, particularly on the ISIS-Maute fighters, their hostages, and trapped civilians. On the operational level, we applied it outside the MBA, specifically by focusing on the IDPs of Marawi City, their local and traditional leaders, and the people from the surrounding towns, provinces, and the lake area. On the strategic level, we directed our efforts on the Filipino nation and the global community.
(This entry is part of Chapter 2: Marawi Crisis.)