The key to breaking the barriers of trust was letting people fully understand the military’s intentions and actions on the ground. The war against terrorism requires the community’s involvement, their desire to rise above the present crisis, and a commitment to realize our goals, providing them a sense of shared responsibility in our joint pursuit of peace and prosperity. In doing so, the entire community actively partnered to rebuild their lives.
The heroism and sacrifices of our soldiers, our sincerity, responsiveness to the needs of the people, and respect for their cultural values and traditions, encouraged and cemented strong partnerships between us, the local leaders, and the community.
Foreword: Shared Responsibility
“Our partnership with the communities cemented the bonds that united us in our mission to liberate Marawi City against the heartless terrorists. Our united effort together with the courage and bravery of our security forces proved essential in obtaining victory.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Marawi City has a special place in the history of our beloved country. It is the only Islamic city in the Philippines that has resisted both attempts at colonization by the Spaniards and the Americans. After the recent siege of the City of Marawi, a new chapter in the history of the Philippines has been written.
This book is a documentation about the community and stakeholder engagements strategy and methodology that was implemented by Joint Task Force Marawi and the office of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations.
It is a narration of how JTF Marawi mapped out their operational platforms in order to: win the community’s support, show respect for the cultural diversity of the affected communities, and empower them through our stakeholder engagements geared towards rebuilding the City of Marawi.
LTGEN ROLANDO JOSELITO D BAUTISTA AFP
Commanding General, Philippine Army
Former Commander, Joint Task Force Marawi/
1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army
Introduction: Breaking the Barriers of Trust
“No amount of tactical victories in the battlefield can be legitimized if the affected communities view the military as the oppressor.” — Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera
The magnitude of the conflict that gripped the City of Marawi in the clutches of the enemy was enormous. The ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group had no respect for the wealth of the historical value that the only Islamic city in the country possessed. They laid explosives along our troops’ intended axes of advance, they rigged with explosives historical landmarks, they burned prominent and cultural landmarks and edifices – St. Mary‘s Cathedral and Dansalan College, they also thrashed homes, and looted commercial establishments. All these were atrocities by the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
Shocked at the wanton disregard by the terrorists for Maranao history, we were compelled to do something to alleviate the perceived loss of identity of the Maranaos. We brainstormed, consulted the people, crafted our plans of action after the series of dialogues with Sultans, Imams, elders, and the affected communities, and laid the framework for the launching of our soft power approach to the problem.
It was important that the aggrieved communities felt the sincerity of the government to make a difference in their lives. We at the JTF Marawi established partnerships with the local communities and communicated the need for them to take a proactive part in our stakeholder and community engagements that would benefit them. We were there to bring in the required resources that would address their needs. They were the masters of the project while we catered to them in a servant role.
Through our effective communication strategies and counter extremist narratives, we were able to debunk the negative propaganda spread by the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group. Once again through selfless service, the Philippine Army alleviated the sufferings of these innocent victims of terrorism.
LTC JO-AR A HERRERA (INF) PA
Director, Operations Research Center, PA
Former Spokesperson/AC of S for CMO (G7),
Joint Task Force Marawi/1st Infantry (Tabak)
Division, Philippine Army
Chapter 1: Operational 1 Strategy
“In addressing the problems to provide decent accommodations for the affected communities after the crisis, we took into consideration the clannishness of the Maranaos which had served them in good stead – a natural deterrent against insurgency. Our Immediate Shelter and Accommodation Bahay Pag-asa housing projects were designed in such a way that IDPs could live in close proximity to one another while maintaining their privacy and preserving their dignity.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Community Support Program (CSP)
Two months before the Marawi crisis, then-newly-installed Commander of Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division (1ID), BGen Bautista gave guidance to his Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7), Lt Col Herrera to formulate a program for harnessing the community’s support to ensure and sustain peace and security efforts in the area of Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces (ZAMPELAN) to defeat Local Terror Groups (LTGs).
We needed to focus our efforts in strengthening our collaborations with the local communities in Lanao del Sur as the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group’s influence had significantly increased. Prior to the Marawi crisis, the ISISMaute Terrorist Group seized the towns of Butig and Piagapo in an attempt to establish an ISIS base under Isnilon Hapilon, the newly proclaimed emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia.
Strategic Communication Plan:
Harnessing Local Chief Executives (LCE) Support
Before the Marawi crisis, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued a warning that Martial Law could be imposed in Mindanao should local officials fail to address the peace and security situation of the region. We formulated a strategic communication plan entitled: “Harnessing Local Chief Executives (LCEs) Support” to increase the participation of ZAMPELAN LCEs in addressing the peace and security situation of their respective areas.
Strategic Communication Plan:
Harnessing Community Support
A few days after the siege erupted on the 23rd of May 2017, we formulated another Strategic Communication Plan entitled: “Harnessing Community Support” to increase the understanding and awareness of our concerned audiences utilizing our soft power approach, particularly CMO programs and initiatives that would encourage positive sentiments and the support for our troops.
This framework enhanced our 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division’s CMO capabilities to support Focused Military Operations (FMO) and Information Operations (IO) against the ISIS–Maute Terrorist Group.
In the first few days of the crisis, while the Main Battle Area (MBA) was under heavy fighting, the terrorists sowed fear and division among the communities and stakeholders by deliberately spreading disinformation and black propaganda. They circulated fake news on social media platforms.
Deliberately confusing the opinions and sentiments of key influencers and stakeholders in Marawi City, the terrorists propagated disinformation about the legitimacy of the proclamation of Martial Law and the military presence at checkpoints. They also questioned our control measures such as: the issuance of conduct passes, imposition of curfew, and our interagency supervised house visits together with local LGU representatives and volunteers. Uniformed personnel were alleged to be looting houses. They also blamed our air strikes for the destruction of buildings and structures.
To address these issues, then BGen Bautista directed Lt Col Herrera to operationalize our Community and Stakeholder Engagement (CSE) strategies.
We immediately mobilized a small but efficient CMO team to actively engage all the affected communities, groups, and key individuals including: Sultans, Imams, traditional and religious leaders, the youth, academe, business and professional sectors, LCEs, and civil society organizations (CSOs). To debunk the enemy’s narratives of lies and deceit, we told the truth, and provided the right information, and educated the local community about the importance of Martial Law for peace and security.
Chapater 2: Selfless Offering to the Community We Serve
“At JTF Marawi we placed a premium on our interpersonal relationships with the LCEs, traditional-cultural leaders, and members of the community.” — Lt Col Rosendo Abad
We were guided by the principles symbolized by the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division (1ID) logo.
The inverted pyramid symbolizes the Division’s inner strength that reigns supreme over a vast territory, a selfless offering of service to our country by a humble individual. Every Tabak Trooper who wears this logo dedicates him or herself to serve the community with utmost humility.
An indigenous weapon used by our forefathers to defend themselves against foreign invaders, the tabak stands for the Division’s determination to defend the country’s sovereignty. It points upward to signify the Division’s combat readiness to fight all forces that may threaten our freedom and independence.
The three stars represent the three main islands of the country where the men and women of the Division come from.
Red stands for courage and bravery of the Tabak Troopers, and white, for the soldier’s ideals of purity — the lofty ideas and dedication for peace in serving the community and the country.
Chapter 4: Martial Law and the Marawi Crisis
“Your Armed Forces will continue to serve the people and support other organizations whenever, wherever.” — Lt Gen Carlito Galvez Jr
When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared Proclamation No. 216 placing the entire island of Mindanao under Martial Law, local residents said, it reminded them of the military’s abusive implementation during the Marcos regime. The declaration reminded them of the horror stories associated with the presence of uniformed personnel which reinforced their negative views of the Army and the Police.
“Ang mga sundalo noong araw ay hindi marunong bumasa at walang respeto. Basta ka na lang pagdiskitahan kahit matingnan mo lang sa mata. Basta na lang pagraransakin ang bahay mo at bogbog talaga aabutin mo lalo na kapag lasing sila. Kaya ngayon, bumalik na naman uli, stay na lang kami sa bahay, takot na kaming lumabas. (Soldiers then did not know how to read and were disrespectful. They would pick on you if you were caught just looking at them. In their drunken state, they would ransack houses and beat people up. So we simply stayed in our houses, because we are afraid to go out),” a resident from Marawi said.
Considered by many historians as among the darkest episodes in Philippine history, Martial Law in the 1970s politicized the military. Abuses committed by security forces then were widespread.
In his written report to Congress, President Duterte stated that the Maute brothers were among the leaders of the Marawi siege. They were allied with ISIS and planned to create an Islamic state in Mindanao. As these developments were taking place, the AFP pursued its mandate to crush the threat. AFP spokesman BGen Restituto Padilla said the implementation of Martial Law facilitated the arrest of individuals linked to the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
BGen Padilla said: “The situation is working to our advantage, because we don’t have to line up to get search and arrest warrants. We could quickly take action against suspicious persons who were seen to aid the rebellion. They could be quickly arrested and cases in court could be immediately filed against them.”
Several suspected terrorists were swiftly arrested, which included: Cayamora and Farhana Maute, parents of the terrorist leaders. The Supreme Court subsequently voted on the 4th of July 2017 to uphold Proclamation No. 216. The House of Representatives and the Senate voted on the 21st of July 2017 to extend Martial Law to the 31st of December 2017.
In its campaign in Marawi City, the AFP fought not only a well-armed, but also a vicious enemy. As a result, 24 out of 96 barangays were totally devastated and 1,131 were killed, including 165 from the military and police, 919 terrorists, and 47 civilians. Though allegations of abuses were made against our soldiers, it was actually the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group that committed the atrocities against civilians.
Responding to these, BGen Padilla said, “We will investigate and discipline those found guilty of violating policies and regulations, which include International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights (HR).” He pointed out that the AFP had already been conducting separate investigations on the alleged looting charges.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, the government would apply the full force of the law on any AFP personnel who would be found guilty of committing abuses.
The Martial Law that the AFP implemented in response to the crisis was different from the one experienced by the elder members of the community during the 1970s. JTF Marawi and its troops upheld the doctrine of IHL, respected the principles of HR, while constantly reiterating the rules of engagements (ROE) to our troops.
Chapter 4: Terrorists Fall
“We designed a very good campaign to flush the enemy out, to pressure and canalize them into the predetermined engagement areas. We call it constriction.” — Gen Eduardo Año
The Sun Shines After the Storm
“Marawi City could have fallen into the hands of terrorists, if our leaders did not rise up to the occasion. The civilian’s undying support all the way throughout our painstaking battles against the terrorists led to our eventual victory. While we were tested and tried in a fiery furnace with seeming uncertainty, we came up victorious in the end. The people cried and were moved to compassion upon seeing the devastation and suffering of their beloved Marawi City. But deep inside, a feeling of hope rested in their hearts upon seeing the unwavering dedication of our servant soldiers who were willing to sacrifice and die for our country,” Lt Gen Bautista said.
The neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon by our government forces was a significant victory in our ongoing counter-terrorism campaign. His death was symbolic and we utilized that to create a resounding effect in our social media, digital, print, radio, and broadcast messaging to counter terrorist groups’ narratives in the country.
Strong Community Support Leads to Isolation of the Enemy
The efficiency of our community engagements strategically prevented a spillover to the adjacent municipalities and provinces. The existence of a strong community support network in support of our operations kept the mainstream perceptions and mindset away from the enemy narratives.
We physically contained the area by controlling strongpoints and other vantage positions. We empowered key influencers including community leaders, as protectors of their constituents. They became force multipliers in preventing the terrorists from escaping from the MBA. The physical and psychological isolation of Hapilon and the Maute brothers was attributed to the active community participation that we enjoyed in our shared responsibility goals of maintaining peace and order and security.
Emphasizing Victory, Mitigating Hapilon’s Glorification
After government authorities announced the neutralization of the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group leaders, we immediately conducted proactive messaging and engagements with key community leaders to emphasize the terrorists’ evil intent and grand plan to destroy Marawi City. The terrorists’ destruction of Marawi’s infrastructures and cultural heritage sites was highlighted to mitigate any glorification attempt.
Key community influencers were immediately informed and invited to a dialogue to get them involved and to elicit their participation in the ongoing fight against the terrorists.
Impact of Hapilon’s Death on Extremism
Hapilon’s death created a negative impact on extremism in the Philippines. The number of his followers shrunk and their commitment wavered. While it was a morale booster for our troops, it had a strong symbolic effect on those inclined to support his brand of extremism. His death weakened other terrorist armed groups.
“Our joint interagency effort provided us with a wide pool of human resources. Putting all these talents together, getting them to act in unison, directing their efforts towards a common goal, was what spelled victory for JTF Marawi. — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Chapter 5: Victory Against Terrorism
“Crucial to the success in the implementation of any program of action is partnering with the locals, eliciting their commitment, and obtaining their support.” — Cpt Mike Malacad
Marawi Leaders Manifest Strong Support to End Violent Extremism
“We are very thankful for the Philippine Army for ending the crisis in Marawi. We are fully supporting the efforts of the Philippine Army for peace in Lanao del Sur and we fully cooperate in whatever steps the Philippine Army will undertake on the rehabilitation of Marawi City.” — Statement by the Lanao Del Sur Confederation of Sultanates
Spearheaded by the Philippine Army and the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, the LCEs of the province, including mayors, confederation of sultanates, council of Imams and Ulamas, academe, business, and professional services sectors, were immediately convened on the 17th of October 2017 at the provincial capitol, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City. To demonstrate their solidarity and strong commitment to end violent extremism, and to avoid a similar crisis from happening again in the future, various community leaders in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, declared their support for the government’s initiatives in sustaining efforts to rehabilitate the war-torn city and counter radicalization among the youth. The complicated process of rebuilding Marawi City and the sustainment of peace in the area was discussed during the event. The panel members were: National Defense Sec Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen Eduardo Año, Presidential Communication Operations Office Sec Martin Andanar, National Defense Sec Cesar Yano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairman Eduardo del Rosario, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and Special Concerns Sec Abdullah Mamao, Lanao del Sur Gov Bedjoria Alonto-Adiong, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov Mujiv Hataman, Ulamas, and Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra. Also present during the forum were: Lt Gen Carlito Galvez, Commander, Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), and the newly installed 1ID Commander, BGen Roseller Murillo.
Chapter 6: Community’s Partner
“The Philippine Army will always be a willing partner for programs that promote peace and foster development in the community. The community has always been an indispensable ally of the army in its effort for nation building.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Army is Community’s Partner in Peace and Development During Martial Law
Tne Army’s 1ID, JTF Marawi, Rajan Lanao Inc., and Mindanao State University (MSU) held a forum dubbed as “Understanding the Law Under a Martial Rule: Multi-Sectoral Forum on Martial Law and Human Rights” with the theme: “Championing Rights and Rebuilding Marawi: A Collective Goal Amidst the Rift of Times,” on the 14th of October 2017 at the Pavilion, College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, MSU, Main Campus, Marawi City.
More than 100 participants who joined the event were from: the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Academe, Youth sector, Local Government Units, different line agencies of the government, business sectors, religious and cultural leaders, and civil society organizations. The whole day activity was aimed at updating the participants on current laws and jurisprudence related to the implementation of Martial Law.
MGen Rolly Bautista, 1ID Commander, said in his keynote message delivered by Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera, Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7), 1ID: “Your Philippine Army appreciates your concerns regarding the declaration of Martial Law in the island of Mindanao. We welcome your viewpoints that will provide us with a wider perspective for the efficient implementation of government programs in the affected areas.”
As this Multi-Sectoral Forum provided a platform for dialogue and discussion among concerned individuals, we had an opportunity to arrive at a common understanding in order to be able to resolve issues and questions on hand. We appreciated the need for a united effort with the participants, who were the prime movers of the affected communities, in our pursuit of peace and development, not only in Marawi City, but in the rest of Mindanao.
Resource speakers in the forum included: Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera; Atty Mabandes Diron Jr, (Human Rights in the Philippines); Atty Hamid Barra (Marawi Siege from a Civilian Perspective); Cpt Michael Malacad (Marawi Crisis Situationer); Cpt Mark Dumalan (Understanding Martial Law); Atty Norhabib Bin Suod Barodi (A Perspective on Land Rights Issues and the Marawi Crisis; and Supt Ebra Moxsir PNP (Law Enforcement in the Context of Martial Law).
MGen Bautista said: “As head of your Philippine Army in this area, I assure you that our soldiers and others in the security sector will serve and protect you. Each and every member of our security force has been properly mandated to uphold human rights and respect the principles of the international humanitarian law. Any one in our ranks caught violating the law will be dealt with accordingly.
“When the fighting ends in Marawi City, we shall continue with our efforts to work towards the attainment of progressive and peaceful communities . When Martial Law has been lifted, your army will continue to be your partner for peace and development.
“The insights and contributions of participants and speakers of today’s MultiSectoral Forum will form part of the necessary steps that we will take into consideration in the plans to rebuild Marawi City.”
A human rights desk was established by the Provincial Crisis Management Center (PCMC) at the Lanao Del Sur provincial capitol. Atty Nashiba Didaagun, convenor of Rajan Lanao Inc, noted in her program synthesis that “No human rights violation (HRV) complaint was formally filed during the crisis. However, allegations based on hearsay were posted on social media. The Army authorities, nonetheless, acted on such posts and verbal complaints to address the issues raised.”
Chapter 7: Lanao del Norte Peace Covenant
“The tragedy that gripped Marawi City was quite unfortunate. Nevertheless, we must pursue our commitment to work for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. By uniting and promoting our pro-peace and anti-terrorism agenda, development will return to the City of Marawi, and enable its people once again to live in the spirit of love and harmony.” — Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera
Terrorism Has No Place in the Land of Bounty and Beauty
We participated in a forum entitled “Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation” held on the 11th of October 2017 in Barangay Poblacion, Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera, Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7), 1ID was the guest of honor and speaker during the event.
During the forum, community representatives from Muslims, Christians, and various tribes of Lumads, religious groups and organizations initiated a peace covenant signing to preserve and protect the interests of the people, promote unity, and to foster the culture of peace as “One Human Family Under God”.
The peace covenant in a form of a resolution was signed by about 300 participants in the forum including Lanao del Norte Gov Imelda QuibranzaDimaporo, Vice Gov Ma Cristina Atay, 1st District Congressman Muhamad Khalid Dimaporo, 2nd District Congressman Abdullah Dimaporo, and Balo-I Mayor Datu Madid Elias Ali.
Chapter 8: Countering Radicalization and Extremism
“The youth will always be the building blocks of the nation. From them, future leaders are obtained. When the talents of the youth are developed, much can be harnessed. It is in our common interest to initiate programs that are youth-centered. This will open their eyes to the possibility of a career in the service, enlighten them on the evils of terrorism, and give purpose to their lives.” — BGen Roseller Murillo
Army Rallies Youth for Positive Activism
The Philippine Army’s 1ID led by its newly installed Commander, BGen Roseller Murillo, spearheaded the 3rd Regional Youth Leadership Summit with the theme; “Youth of Today, Our Partner for a Positive Activism” hosted by the Province of Lanao del Norte led by Gov Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo, on the 5th to the 9th of October 2017 at the Mindanao Civic Center, Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
The Philippine Government initiated an anti-terrorism program to end radicalization and extremism for a better and peaceful society. BGen Murillo explained that anti-terrorism is a collective effort of the whole community.
“The Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte is doing its own little way in preserving and protecting the interests of the youth. We promote sports and other essential activities that would foster unity among all residents of the province,” said Gov Quibranza-Dimaporo as she spoke before the participants.
The 92 participants were composed of youth leaders from: Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and Iligan City.
BGen Murillo said that the development of the youth sector is one of the priority programs of the AFP. He explained that this program has been activated to engage the youth and enable them to become responsible citizens as well as advocates of peace and development initiatives.
The various activities of the five-day summit sought to instill in them the spirit of patriotism, nationalism and social responsibility. These traits would be important both to nation building and the reconstruction of Marawi City.
Chapter 9: United with the Army
“Let us be agents of change in our communities that spread the dictums of peace, hope, and love. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of the people of these crisisafflicted communities.” — Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera
Maranao Youth as Peacebuilders in Marawi
The sea of people fleeing astounded Norman Musa, 24, when he and his family left Marawi City for Iligan City as terrorists invaded the Islamic City. “You can see the fear on their faces. I personally saw dead bodies. I thought, ‘this is it’. The war of religion will begin,” Musa narrated.
During the conflict, classes were suspended in Marawi City and school-age children had nothing to do in various evacuation centers. Due to the congestion in these centers, people started acquiring health problems, families were deprived of their livelihood, and children started exhibiting signs of trauma.
These conditions brought about resentments among the internally displaced persons (IDPs). “The anger and pain were clearly evident among the evacuees,” Musa said. Despite the challenges, he clung to the hope that Marawi City will rise again. And he wants to be a part of it. “I want to teach my fellow youth that peace can be achieved in our city.”
In partnership with the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), we provided a footprint on youth empowerment through a three-day Inter-Camp Peace and Leadership Training held in Linamon near Iligan City on the 4th to the 6th of October 2017. The JTF Marawi’s Civil-Military Operations Coordinating Center (CMOCC) spearheaded this undertaking.
Twenty-six youth peace educators, including Musa, from six evacuation centers in Iligan City were representatives from the Culture of Peace orientation earlier held in July. Peace games, music, poetry sessions, reenactments, visual presentations, and action planning were among the activities used to explore the leadership skills of the young peacebuilders.
According to Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, founder of TPBPM, the youth will play a pivotal role in the rebuilding of Marawi City. “The youth have the energy, passion, and creativity that can be channeled into great things to benefit their communities.
It is our strategy that we capacitate them on conflict prevention, resolution, transformation, and proactive peacebuilding,” she said.
Pairosah Faisal, 18, was optimistic that the youth would be instrumental in preventing future conflicts. “It’s important for the youth to know the real essence of peace. We are the hope of this nation. Conflicts should stop in our generation,” Faisal said.
In his message during his visit to the seminar, JTF Marawi Spokesperson Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera rallied the youth to work towards creating and maintaining an environment for peace to thrive in the communities. “Now is the time to be part of the change. Make a difference in your communities,” Lt Col Herrera urged. “Be united and be brave. We were not created to hate; we were created to love. Let’s spread love to the world.” (Source: OPPAP peace.gov.ph)
Sincere Efforts Bear Fruits
In his conversation with the participants, Lt Col Herrera was told that the Maranao youth greatly appreciated the Army’s efforts to reach out to them and ease their burdens due to the crisis. It had been years since young Maranaos applied for enlistment in the Philippine Army. However at the summit, some of the young participants expressed interests in joining the military. This is indicated that a positive image of our soldiers was enhanced through active engagements with the community.
Defeating the Terrorist’s Narrative
“When children are taken out of the conflict areas and provided with an opportunity that stimulates their senses, they acquire new knowledge. Such was what the educational tour with a visit to Malacañan Palace with His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte afforded them. The traumas of war took a back seat as positive images took root in their formative minds.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Army Launches Peace Educational Tour
The 1ID and JTF Marawi in partnership with Kilos Kabataan Livelihood Foundation under the stewardship of Atty Kristine Bangot, initiated a countering-violent extremism (CVE) activity for selected children from Marawi City dubbed “Tabak Educational Tour” with the theme “Peaceful Environment for Marawi Children”.
Seventy participants were selected and divided into two batches. The children were brought to Manila for a simple meet-and-greet activity with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Malacañan Palace. They also toured the Philippine Army Museum, KidZania Manila, and the Manila Ocean Park.
The initiative was in partnership with the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Desk, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), TPBPM, Rotary Club of Padre Burgos Manila, and Philippine Information Agency (PIA). Supporters of this activity also included: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (ARMM HEART), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Makati Medical Center Foundation, One Meralco Foundation, TV5 Tulong Kapatid Foundation, PLDT Smart Foundation, North Luzon Expressway Corporation, and Max’s Restaurant.
To address the traumatic effect of the ongoing Marawi crisis on children, we conceived of this socio-cultural tour. We conducted psychosocial activities for peacebuilding away from their communities and school environment. We wanted to expose them to peaceful environments outside of the conflict-affected areas.
This activity was part of the military’s soft power approach. It was a remedial measure to lessen the emotional baggage and stimulate cognitive and behavioral functions of children in order to take away their traumatized minds from conflicts.
Chapter 11: #iTeachPeace
“Every child has an innate quality of tolerance and unbiasedness, which are subsequently learned later in life. It is vital that we develop their ability to foster peace in this critical period by using an intergenerational approach on peace education, servant leadership, innovative and creative strategies in music, arts, games, sports, and community service.” — Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement
Army Conducts Peacebuilders Training
A total of 47 participants joined in the workshop, including seven soldiers from JTF Marawi, five police personnel from Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office (PPO), Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), and other Maranao civilian volunteers from various sectors.
“In this activity, we were able to train another batch of I TEACH PEACE facilitators who will be conducting different peace education sessions in the evacuation centers for the affected children in the Marawi crisis,” said Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, founding president and executive director of TPBPM.
TPBPM is a non-governmental organization with a mission of making every Filipino child and youth a peacebuilder. It is composed of an expanding network of active and empowered young generation of leaders coming from different faiths, cultures, and ethnic groups who work together as prime movers in building a culture of peace.
The participants were trained in various interactive activities that provided inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogues that were designed to develop the values of compassion, service for others, empowerment, equality, respect, and understanding. “This is the very foundation of a just and peaceful society, where every individual practices peace as a way of life,” Sumndad-Usman said.
“The approach of the TPBPM is: we have to Teach Peace to build a Culture of Peace. We have to build a culture of peace to create different generations of peacebuilders toward our goal of a just and peaceful society,” Sumndad-Usman said.
Lt Gen Rolly Bautista said, “JTF Marawi facilitated programs that would empower volunteer peace teachers to inspire, develop, and bring out the best of the abilities of children affected by the conflict and those with an absence of formal education.”
Chapter 12: Marawi Crisis and Violent Extremism
“We are saddened with what happened to our troops in Marawi City. They have their own families but they are fighting for Maranaos. It’s really sad to know that there are even negative statements being thrown at them. Here in Lanao del Norte, we are fully supportive of the soldiers and the declaration of Martial Law. We are safer and the province is more peaceful with Martial Law. We always include our troops in our prayers.” — Gov Imelda “Angging” Quibranza-Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte
JTF Marawi rallies LDN barangay officials to fight violent extremism
The 1ID/JTF Marawi ’s presentation on “Marawi Crisis and Violent Extremism: What should be done?” was highlighted during the 6th Lanao del Norte Provincial Barangay Congress spearheaded by Governor Imelda “Angging” Quibranza-Dimaporo at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod municipality.
Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera represented JTF Marawi in the event which was attended by representatives from 22 municipalities of Lanao del Norte. Gov Quibranza-Dimaporo said she was thankful for the presentation of Lt Col Herrera, who provided an overview of what happened in Marawi City.
“We were worried because the spillover would be Lanao del Norte being the adjacent province. Out of 22 municipalities, 19 are hosting evacuees from Marawi. I am appealing to the barangay officials not to allow these extremists to go to our province. We will not cuddle sympathizers or supporters of these extremists,” Gov Quibranza-Dimaporo said.
At the event, Lt Col Herrera presented a brief analysis on the Marawi crisis. The following are excerpts from his message:
“The ISIS-Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorist groups wanted to seize Marawi City, because of their greed for power and money. Furthermore, they only want to sow terror, hate, and division among peace-loving Muslims and Christians who have been co-existing for so many years. From this, it can be seen that they have a corrupted view of Jihad and are not fighting in the name of Islam. “This is the reason why your soldiers are fighting the terrorists in the Battle of Marawi — to preserve peace and order, while fulfilling their mandate of serving our people and protecting our land. Your soldiers are human beings just like you, and like the people of Lanao del Norte, all of us must help one another and be brave and united against the terrorists.
“With the ongoing battle against the terrorists, your government is doing its best to take care of those who are affected. Your Army is ensuring the successful implementation of humanitarian missions, including relief operations, community engagements, and psychosocial activities for children in affected communities.
“Your Army intends to maintain its strong support and partnerships with local leaders for peacebuilding in the communities at the barangay level. We will organize peacebuilding events including: youth leadership summits, social media summits, educational sociocultural tours, and project enlightenment for out-of-school youth and students.
“Several Civil-Military Operations programs are being implemented with the endview of being able to establish a strong support mechanism from the communities to further develop an authentic and credible messaging that will counter violent extremism, taking into consideration the local context and culture.”
“The evolving network of terrorists in Mindanao reflects the regional trend of terrorism observed in Southeast Asia. Radicalization or violent extremism, which leads to terrorism has already taken root in our land. The extent of radical indoctrination among our youth has been uncovered in the ongoing crisis in Marawi City where youngsters are involved and form the bulk of the forces of the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
“As part of the counter violent extremism measures of JTF Marawi, together with our partners, we are conducting activities to harness community support to counter radicalization in the affected areas in order to suppress or reduce the vulnerability of the at-risk communities from the threat posed by violent extremism leading to terrorist organization recruitment.”
Lt Col Herrera, then gave out advice on what the audience could do in countering the threat of terrorism:
What Should Be Done to Counter Violent Extremism?
- The significant need of activities to counter violent extremism among the youth should be emphasized.
- Children and the youth should be empowered to increase their awareness and understanding of peace and a nonviolent path.
- Partnerships with communities should be increased to provide interventions among the youth.
- More dialogue spaces and approaches to dealing with the conflict should be provided such as: empowering traditional leaders, the academe, and institutions.
- Support for peace through education programs focusing on countering violent extremism.
Chapter 13: Personnel Empowerment
“To empower our personnel, our OG7, 1ID PA shall start conducting trainings and seminars on the proper conduct of community and stakeholder engagements in keeping with the dictums of the culture of the people of Mindanao.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Barely warming his seat as the newly installed 1ID PA Commander, on the 15th of March 2017 — less than two months before the start of the crisis on the 23rd of May 2017— BGen Rolly Bautista provided guidance to Lt Col Herrera, to assess the state of Civil-Military Operations of the Division. As per Lt Col Herrera’s assessment, the following were observed:
● The potential of the Civil-Military Operations capability was not fully appreciated by the entire organization
● The organization’s use of digital media was unfamiliar to many of the Division’s personnel
● The appreciation for the role/function of OG7 was limited in scope to being a mere clearing house and consolidation area for CMO activities
● Leadership comes and goes without anyone having envisioned this particular capability development for our personnel
● Personnel lacked the initiative to develop their skills for CMO
In his first week in office, Lt Col Herrera instructed the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) to create campaign materials, including posters and flyers, for community engagements. After two weeks, the said materials were still unproduced because the personnel did not know what to do or where and how to start. This situation revealed the digital capability of the entire Division, clearly an unfamiliar terrain, due mainly to a lack of motivation, knowledge, skills, and equipment.
To improve the Division’s CMO capability, Lt Col Herrera initiated a series of CMO Enhancement Capability Training programs in March of 2017. Little did he know that these initiatives would eventually prove to be useful in equipping the Division’s CMO enlisted personnel and officers in the execution of their duties during the Marawi crisis.
The Philippine Army’s Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training (OG8) provided the funding support for the trainings of the Division’s capability enhancements. Lt Col Herrera formulated the curriculum for this series of trainings. The aim was to build the necessary knowledge and skills in reaching out to the communities and to bring soldiers closer to the people.
The various seminars and trainings included the Stakeholder Engagement Seminar and Harnessing Community Support Training program. These trainings explored different methodologies in facilitating collaborations with the community prime movers in conducting peacebuilding undertakings.
Chapter 14: Digital Media Integration
“Adequate words, appropriate actions, and powerful images – these were the products which we used to create an impact from the stories that we told.” — Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera
Digital products — posters, infographics, and videos, were developed by the Information Operations (IO) Cell to represent JTF Marawi’s “Actions, Words, and Images.” Aside from translating the tactical gains in the MBA, community and stakeholder engagements initiated by the CMOCC were also highlighted in the Division’s website and social media posts.
The following initiatives were undertaken by the team:
● An editorial calendar, incorporating the intended schedule of activities, was set to manage the Division’s products and messaging.
● News releases for posting of online properties were prepared beforehand and posted on a scheduled basis in the website.
● Event articles were published on the same day or within 24 hours.
● Published news releases and other featured stories were immediately shared to online properties.
● The Digital Media Team in Pulacan and in Marawi City initiated the creation of a private Facebook group to facilitate product collaboration and development.
Chapter 15: Civil-Military Operations Coordinating Center
“By studying the people’s culture before engaging them, we are able to minimize possible areas of misunderstanding between us, while making them feel our genuine care and compassion for their plight.” — BGen Ramiro Manuel Rey
Perhaps one of the most innovative and effective CMO onsite initiatives was the creation and activation of the CMOCC. The CMOCC served as the JTF Marawi’s platform wherein various civilian stakeholders including civil society organizations, local and international media practitioners and outfits, private individuals, and government organizations were able to engage the AFP in a continuing dialogue, clarify information inquiries, and do emergency activity coordination during the crisis.
The CMOCC’s real value lay in the fact that the military was open for civilian engagements even when fighting between JTF Marawi and the enemy was intense. The CMOCC provided the much-needed space for airing and hearing civilian concerns. The CMOCC also greatly contributed to rescue coordination efforts for civilians trapped by firefights, retrieval of the dead and wounded, and emergency relief operations.
The CMOCC was established as part of JTF Marawi’s “Operation Liberation.” A few weeks prior to the crisis’ start, CMOCC operations were initiated in tandem with Focused Military Operations (FMOs) against the same local terrorist group in Piagapo, Lanao Del Sur. These operations were the prelude for the seige of Marawi.
A Stakeholders’ Desk was established with the following tasks:
● Actively engage stakeholders
● Take charge of activities, speeches, and seminars
● Actively participate in events and activities organized by civilian organizations, professionals, and civic organizations
● Build strong relationships with government, NGOs, community, and business leaders for community defense enhancement
The CMOCC in collaboration with PDRRMO facilitated 29 rescue operations obtained from various distressed calls received from trapped civilians. Out of the total 1,758 individuals, 935 were rescued through CMOCC facilitation.
The CMOCC in partnership with ARMM-HEART, LGUs, DSWD, from the 27th of May to the 22nd of June 2017 facilitated 21 relief operations for IDPs in evacuation centers prior to the takeover by Joint Task Group (JTG) Tabang.
The recovery of dead bodies and missing persons and other retrieval operations were tasked to a team led by Maj Reynaldo Sambo and other adjacent military units together with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Lanao Del Sur. The recovery of 232 dead bodies was facilitated in coordination with the PNP Scene of the Crime Operative (SOCO) Lanao del Sur.
Chapter 16: Provincial Crisis Management Committee
“The Philippine Army’s consultations and partnerships with civilian authorities in serving our affected constituents, show that we are respected and supported by the military even with the implementation of Martial Law.” — Assemblyman Zia Alonto-Adiong
The Provincial Crisis Management Committee (PCMC) was established as a policy and decision-making body for the Local Government Units (LGUs) in Lanao del Sur for managing the Marawi crisis at the provincial level.
With the implementation of Martial Law, the Philippine Army initiated and facilitated the formation of the PCMC — a gesture to show to the affected communities that their local government was functioning and respected by the military.
The PCMC’s primary function was to determine the appropriate level of crisis response needed based on their continuous and thorough assessment of the prevailing crisis. With close coordination with the Philippine Army, PCMC confidently discharged their functions and complemented the humanitarian efforts of the military. The PCMC provided support to ensure the successful implementation of our humanitarian missions. Strategic decisions undertaken by the military especially in cleared areas were done in consultation with the PCMC.
The negative reactions of the affected communities against military operations became lighter because of the harmonious relationship between the provincial government and our CMO units. Our engagements with the PCMC showed our sincerity. The PCMC appreciated our efforts and explained to the people the reasons of our FMOs in the MBA.
Our messaging included the PCMC and centered on the provision of protection, help, and support for the LGUs. The consultations and partnerships with the municipalities throughout the entire province showed that the civilian authorities, despite the declaration of Martial Law, were still in control and supported by the Armed Forces.
Chapter 17: Joint Task Group Ranao
“This historic declaration of Martial Law in the island of Mindanao necessitated the call for the respect of the cultural identity of the people while upholding the principles of human rights in accordance with our discharge of duties.” — BGen Ramiro Manuel Rey
JTF Marawi established the JTG Ranao headed by BGen Ramiro Rey as Commander and Lt Col Rosendo Abad Jr as Executive Officer to: secure the outskirts or cleared areas, prevent the enemy from escaping and getting reinforcement, and at the same time establish and maintain the trust and support of the local populace.
The need to consider the local context and culture “When we do something or offer solutions, we need to ensure that it is socio-culturally correct,” Lt Col Abad said. “When we show great respect for their culture and heritage, we strengthen the partnership, trust, and confidence between us.”
Lt Col Abad said the following should also be considered: know the local leaders, study the Commander’s intent, and empower the LGUs.
“Starting from the grassroots, we need to encourage the stakeholders and the local populace to help us attain peace in the community by providing them with a sense of ownership”, BGen Bautista, JTF Marawi Commander, said. He then ordered the CMOCC to facilitate the Army’s engagements with LCEs in order to empower them, so that they may better serve their communities and together we may work towards the attainment of peace and progress. CMOCC carried out this function during the first two months of the crisis and then subsequently turned over the responsibilities together with the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) to JTG Ranao.
These were the guiding principles of BGen Rey for JTG Ranao: show direction, be flexible and innovative, show respect, address immediate concerns, and be understanding.
● Enhanced our capabilities in dealing and interacting with stakeholders
● Explored different methodologies to facilitate our collaboration with community prime movers
Joint Task Group Tabang
“The CMO Regiment played a significant role in winning the Battle of Marawi. Not just in helping to defeat the enemy, but more importantly in winning the hearts and minds of the people of Marawi City.” — Col Thomas Sedano Jr
The establishment of JTG Tabang paved the way to strengthen the communities support. Composed of our personnel from the Philippine Army’s newly activated Civil-Military Operations Regiment (CMOR), JTG Tabang was formed under the JTF Marawi in order to provide assistance to the LGUs and other agencies in rebuilding peace in Marawi City and uplifting the welfare of the affected communities. The unit also provided assistance in the relief and humanitarian operations catered specifically for the displaced families.
Col Thomas Sedano Jr, Commander, JTG Tabang, coordinated with various local government agencies (LGAs), NGOs, civil-society organizations (CSOs), and people’s organizations (POs) in the area to synchronize our CMO efforts.
JTG Tabang’s initiatives included: assistance on relief operations for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), distributing school supplies for the affected children through “Project Shoebox”, which was later adopted and supported by an NGO. Among the notable activities of the unit were: the launching of “Project Startup: Unlimited Possibilities for Peace”, and the “Bayanihan Para Sa Mga Bayani: Support Our Troops” project.
JTG Tabang was composed of different CMO companies from the 1ID, 4ID, and 6ID, and troops from the former Civil-Military Operations Group (CMOG) with the following primary task units:
● Support Task Unit — provided support for the efforts of the JTG Tabang’s main operations
● Public Affairs Task Unit
■ Media Management — provided access to reliable information, security for local and international media practitioners and outfits, and ensured the timely and accurate dissemination of information to the general public
■ Social Media Management — produced news bulletins, messages, photos, and videos for public release
■ Combat Camera — provided digital media coverage of the MBA
■ Community Relations — conducted community engagements and provided the human resources to carry out these tasks
● Civil Affairs Task Unit — focused on IDPs management and relief operations in collaboration with our various stakeholders
● Information Support Affairs (ISA) Task Unit — tasked with influencing public opinion, and soliciting empathy of the IDPs, and providing support for our combat units
● IDPs miserable conditions
● Lack of available resources
● Absence of templates or procedural systems for displaced civilians
● Encountered agitation and propaganda of enemy sympathizers
● The enemy fomented allegations that the soldiers were responsible for destroying the houses in Marawi City
Agitation of IDPs
In the later part of July 2017, left-leaning elements were active in agitating the IDPs in various evacuation centers to march back into Marawi City to reoccupy their homes.
There was an impending unrest as the locals were encouraged to disregard the military. To solve this problem, we deployed our personnel in evacuation centers to monitor and control the situation. JTG Tabang initiated visitations and dialogues, psychosocial activities, and other humanitarian initiatives to enlighten IDPs with the following advisory:
“They should stay in the evacuation centers in the meantime for their own safety and security, their predicament is temporary as a result of the conflict caused by the terrorists, and the security forces are doing all they can for the people considering the circumstances.”
Audio Visual Presentations (AVPs) systems were also installed to highlight the heroism and sacrifices of our government troops to liberate Marawi City to end the crisis, expose the atrocities of the enemy, and to show the people the tremendous efforts of our security forces to save lives.
With continuous visitations and dialogues in evacuation centers, JTG Tabang provided truthful and accurate information that largely contributed in keeping the IDPs calm and cooperative. The IDPs became more cooperative to the point that they even asked permission from soldiers whenever the media invited them for interviews. The IDPs also realized that they can help solve the crisis by informing the authorities about the presence of the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
The deployment of the Hijab troopers in the evacuation centers and at checkpoints obtained for us the remarkable acceptance by the local residents. There were 100 of them: 60 from the Philippine Army and 40 from the PNP, they were deployed starting on the 29th of August 2017. They underwent a five-day training program in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, their primary task was to provide assistance to IDPs. The training also included: psychosocial activities, facilitation for gameplays, songs, visual arts, good manners, and basic hygiene.
The Hijab Troopers allowed us to establish open communications with the IDPs which in turn facilitated an easy and comfortable approach for them to be able to voice-out their concerns to us. The IDPs’ needs and complaints were recorded, assessed, and immediately addressed, as facilitated by the assistance of the Hijab troopers.
They were called “Hijab Troopers”, because they wore Hijab head covers as a symbol of being one with the Muslim women and as a sign of respect for the Maranao communities. The Hijab troopers included Maranao PNP personnel who doubled as interpreters and served as linkages for the IDPs.
The Hijab Troopers gave the Army an opportunity to get closer to the local communities and cultivate their trust. They lessened the gaps of a diversified culture and fostered a safer environment for women and children. Their share in the recovery efforts in the evacuation centers of the conflict areas have made a difference. Their unit’s slogan, “Winning the hearts and minds of the people,” had a different meaning for dislocated residents, particularly the children. The conflict had evoked mixed feelings about the men and women in uniform. As soldiers assisted them in setting up tents during the filmshowing of the siege of Marawi City, the mood was festive. As soon as the film was projected, all eyes were focused on the screen. And as the story unfolded the emotions of the people soared high with some being moved to tears as they saw their soldiers take on various roles: heroes, servants of the people, humanitarian ambassadors, and peace advocates.
Food was provided and prepared in the mobile kitchen, and the community enjoyed the catered hot and healthy meals. Our Hijab Troopers mingled with the evacuees and also provided music using Maranao musical instruments. These women soldiers shared in the recovery efforts. Pfc Stephanie Geroy and Cpl Aiko Tadulan of the CMO unit under 103rd Infantry Brigade (103IBde) played with the children, led storytelling activities, and at times, did some drawings. They sat down with them while the adults/parents kept their watch at a distance, keenly observing our Hijab Troopers. Clearly the JTF Marawi won the hearts and minds of the people.
While other soldiers were in the battle area, Cpt Michelle Paranga, Chief, Plans and Policy Division, Office of the Quartermaster General, led some soldiers inside the mobile kitchen at Camp Ranao in Marawi City. They served hot meals for the troops on the frontline. Troops can request what they want to eat. Cpt Paranga gave her best in serving the troops in the MBA. She always reminded her team that the food they cooked every day would greatly help the troops. They provided plenty of meals throughout their deployment. Other soldiers were tasked to prepare and pack meals.
in food containers, these were delivered to the nearest pick up point in designated areas for distribution. Not only did they cater to the troops, they were also tasked to cook for the IDPs in evacuation centers. They prepared halal food for the Maranao community. These women soldiers displayed: courage, cultural sensitivity, empathy, dedication, bravery, and a love for their country.
Because of the sudden terrorist attack, people fled their homes in haste. They arrived at the designated evacuation centers practically emptyhanded. The assorted relief goods that we distributed to them became their primary source of: clothing, food, and hygiene kits. A variety of canned goods, instant noodles, bottled water, rice, hygiene products, blankets, mats, towels, laminated sacks, and others; made up the care packages that were distributed. To provide the IDPs with hot meals, JTG Tabang initiated the mobile kitchen dubbed as ‘Food for Peace’ which made the rounds of evacuation centers. The LGU of Marawi City was instrumental in the realization of this initiative.
Juan and Juana Mascots
To enhance the psychosocial activities involving children in the evacuation centers: JTG Tabang and CMO Regiment brought the Sergeant Juan and Sergeant Juana mascots to Marawi City. Costumed in battle dress attire, these male and female cartoon-like characters softened the trauma of war on these innocent children. Children enjoyed posing for pictures and played games with mascots Juan and Juana.
Chapter 19: Assessment
“When people are victims of an ongoing conflict, emotions run high. Any form of intervention done by anyone from outside their community, if not acceptable to their cultural norms, will be repulsed. Any succeeding attempts will be looked upon with suspicion.” — Sgt Ronie Halasan, Composer/Singer of “Bangon Marawi”
Consistency of CMO Plan and Implementation
- During the Marawi crisis, we were fortunate to have an overall ground commander who had a deep understanding of the critical role, application, and impact of CMO’s effect on humanitarian crisis and our organization.
- The commitment of local leaders and the communities to end violent extremism resulted in the mobilization of the entire province for community defense enhancement.
- The strong cooperation and collaboration facilitated the delivery of basic and social services for the IDPs and swift implementation of government programs in the affected areas.
- The continued partnership and consultations with the PNP, LGUs, LGAs, academe, youth, business sectors, religious and cultural leaders, and CSOs; provided a platform for dialogue and discussion with a common understanding in resolving issues.
- The community representatives of: Muslims, Christians, Lumads, various tribes, religious groups, and other organizations in the provinces of Lanao, strongly declared their commitment to preserve and protect the interests of the people and promote unity to foster a culture of peace.
- JTF Marawi continued to carry out their engagements while encouraging NGOs, POs, and CSOs to support their joint humanitarian initiatives.
Local Community Sentiments
“More than being an entity to provide security, the military can be effective servant leaders. It happened, and they proved it effective in Marawi City.” — A professional and a Marawi resident
Army Engagements and Peacebuilding Initiatives
For the Maranaos, these engagements, which the Philippine Army undertook for the affected communities, would not have been possible if there was no sign of genuine concern and willingness on the part of the military. The military, being an organization that is mandated to protect the people and secure the land, empathized with the public, put words into action, and rendered services beyond the call of duty.
The soldiers performed various tasks outside of their traditional stereotypical roles as envisioned by the locals. It was unusual for the Maranaos to see our troops in uniform extend a hand to those who are in need in the local communities, attend to their grievances/concerns immediately, provide psychosocial/educational/cultural activities for the entire community, and lead in the peacebuilding efforts. These won the hearts of the communities.
Impact of Army Initiatives
“With all the initiatives of the Philippine Army and its personnel, it became possible for the security sector to expand its reach and make a positive impact on our communities,” a Marawi resident said.
The Maranaos appreciated the fact that the military explored other means of engaging the community on a more humane level. There is a stigma from the Maranaos towards the soldiers because of a long held negative perception. During the Martial Law implementation in the 70s, the military’s presence was equated with danger, conflict, or oppression. That fear remained in the people of Marawi City, however, our security forces had begun to soften the image of the AFP through their words and deeds in the Battle of Marawi. A new trust has been born.
The Maranao Community Response to Army’s Peacebuilding Efforts
The Maranao community, through the years has developed a culture of distrust towards anyone in uniform. Accounts of abuses and harassments have persisted, and the fear of imminent recurrence for them was inevitable with the declaration of Martial Law.
In spite of this, the Philippine Army tried to bridge the gap. The peacebuilding efforts of the organization took into perspective the Maranao customs and traditions. The Army cannot just employ a mechanism of deterrence without adequate knowledge of the sectors that will be affected.
The Maranaos are rigid observers of maratabat or pride as a people. They look with suspicion on outsiders especially the people in uniform who fail to observe this custom. This should be addressed in order to win their trust. The CMOCC took this to heart as it implemented all its engagements.
All sectors of society must be involved, to make the Maranao community more receptive and supportive of the military’s initiatives.
The military has no heart. They love to kill the Muslims. They came to our place to take away everything from us. This was the kind of thinking I had since I was a child. I could vividly remember when I was in Grade 3. It was on the 16th of March 2000 at 5:30 pm, when a group of Scout Rangers passed by our house and shouted “Mga Moros pamahawa mo diri kay pamatyon mo namo” (Moros, you leave this place because we will kill you”).
Those words, at a young age were remarkable for me. My family had to leave our house because of fear. We had to seek refuge at the municipal gym, at the school, and at the municipal hall, because of fear of being caught in the firefights between government troops and the Moro fighters.
We feared for our lives. We were afraid of helicopters that hovered us. We thought, these helicopters may drop bombs that could cause a sea of blood. We could not even get our belongings from our own houses because we would be labelled as looters or mistaken as the enemy.
That experience gave me a very negative idea of the Philippine soldiery. Growing up with the fear of soldiers was never easy. They would consider all of us as persons of interest. There was always a discrimination against the Muslims. All of us were considered as persons of interest. Soldiers talk to the Christians comfortably, but with us, there was a barrier of distrust. They did not seem to trust us in the same way that we did not trust them, too. I have carried that with me all troughout the years.
We could not fathom the discrimination against us as a people. That is why whenever we see men wearing camouflage, we were afraid. We thought we will be automatically judged even if we were innocent. I grew up with the belief that my community is excluded from the list of the priorities of the government in terms of protection. It was very difficult to be a Maranao.
The negative view I had with the Philippine Army transformed into appreciation when I met a military man who was very engaging. He organized the Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board in Lanao. He went to the municipalities, and he participated in the electoral reform campaign in the province. He engaged both the local leaders, the CSO, and the residents themselves. He was a well-loved soldier in Lanao.
The community and the Philippine Army had a very good relationship during his time. The military camp was open to civilians. There was a hotline that could be reached if there are security problems. It was a very good working environment for the Philippine Army and the civilian communities. This opened my eyes on what the military is all about. There was a possibility of change depending on who engages our community. The manifestations of this soldier who was a true servant of the people made a huge impact on Maranao people. Even my personal reflection of how the military should be regarded was changed, because he made community engagements with various sectors of Maranao society possible. He was the late BGen Dan Lucero, former commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade (103Bde).
The community engagements of the Philippine Army during the Marawi crisis were very effective and necessary. Battles cannot be won by actual combat and by aggression alone. It was essential that community engagements be sustained in order to win the hearts of the affected communities. In any battle, if the community does not support the soldiers, victory will not be achieved. Our people suffer, if we are not understood by them, regardless of whether they defeat their opponents or not, our community will never see it as a victory, because we, the Maranaos, were not part of it.
Hearing the voice of a Maranao resident, for our security forces, there must exist a shared responsibility in the employment of engagements. The Philippine Army and the communities must work together to ensure that everyone’s safety is given primordial consideration.
Sentiments from the Academe
At the onset of the Marawi crisis, officials of Mindanao State University (MSU) held a meeting with the Philippine Army to discuss the security of the university’s main campus. They met with Lt Col Herrera, JTF Marawi Spokesperson and Lt Col Jake Jumawan, Commanding Officer of 82IB, 3ID.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Atty Basari Mapupuno said: “We learned a lot of things during the Marawi crisis. We were surprised with the intense fighting, we thought it will just be for a few days. We didn’t expect that it will last for more than five months. It is so dishearthening that our lives were affected so much. We are now trying to rebuild and start all over.”
“We are thankful that our university was spared of the destruction and our students were able to continue with their classes even during the crisis. We sought the assistance of the Philippine Army to secure our campus. When Martial Law was declared in Mindanao, it brought back the old eerie feeling of helplessness and fearful memories about what we experienced back in the 70s. We had a harrowing experience with the military way back then. The military was so powerful then and they abused their power to hurt us. It was traumatic and we were so afraid, the soldiers killed the innocents and raped women.”
“During the siege of Marawi City, the Philippine Army met our utmost expectations. They did not only secure our university from the Maute terrorists but they also assisted us with all the help that they could offer. Our students were able to attend school last June even at the height of the crisis. They guarded our university and made sure that we were safe. The military personnel now are far different from the military we used to know during the Martial Law of the 70s. They are now professionals and they respect us, the Maranaos, especially the women. We are thankful to the AFP, especially the Army who never left us. They are with us in rebuilding and recovering from the crisis. We also thank the people of Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, and other towns who helped us.”
“Our university will continue in our quest to educate our students to become instruments of peace, and guide them to become good community leaders.”
“Making the local people and their communities proactive partners for peace and development in Marawi City was the key to our victory.” — Col Romeo Brawner Jr
The Marawi crisis has taught us valuable lessons in the conduct of our community and stakeholder engagements.
- Moral Victory in the MBA — The tactical victory against the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group will not be morally acceptable if the affected communities are cursing the military. The significance of the overwhelming support that we obtained from the locals through our good deeds and working relationships with them, established a moral victory for our troops.
- Sound and Truthful Arguments Prevail — The Battle of Marawi was not only won by guns and ammunitions, but also in the battlefield of people’s hearts and minds. By using strong arguments and telling the truth, the enemy’s will to fight was not only weakened but also isolated from the people. The persistent quad-media barrages using timely, accurate, relevant, and truthful information weakened the people’s support for the terrorist group.
- Leadership Appreciation — The appreciation by our leadership of combining the hard and soft power approaches greatly inspired and contributed to the successful liberation of Marawi City. Our conduct of community and stakeholder engagements as part of our soft power approach showed the communities that we respected their culture and traditions, observed their rights in accordance with the dictums of IHL and Rule of Law, and made them proactive partners for peace, security, and development. Through effective leadership, close supervision, and collaborative initiatives, we received enormous positive feedbacks from the Filipino nation.
- Appreciation of Organic Personnel — Officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian employees were appreciative of the newly acquired knowledge and skills provided by OG7, 1ID. This gave them the opportunity to engage and be familiar with the use of CMO as a powerful capability.
- Trust Builds Confidence —Winning the trust of affected individuals was vital for the success of our operations. Among the primary considerations of the soft power approach or non-kinetic operations of JTF Marawi in order to win the hearts and minds of the locals and the Filipino people were: the containment of the possible escalation of hostilities into the surrounding towns, cities, and provinces; the rescue of trapped civilians inside the war zone; the facilitation of humanitarian missions directed at addressing the needs and uplifting the plight of the people; the support and empowerment of the LGUs, LCEs, traditional leaders, and affected communities; the preservation of the people’s culture and traditions; and the engagement of other leaders outside the affected communities to generate a ground swelling of support.
The following were achieved during the Battle of Marawi:
- We were able to recreate a new image for our security forces.
- We took into consideration their cultural sensitivities.
- We ensured the community that the presence of the Army in the area was in order to serve, secure, and protect them.
- We showed respect for their traditions, culture, and heritage. We treated civilians with honor and respect. We honored the dignity of the IDPs.
- We conducted investigations on alleged cases involving abuses of our personnel. We showed the people we were concerned and transparent.
- We provided help, support, and solutions for their immediate needs and concerns.
- We initiated activities to make the people understand the role of the military in securing the community and its people.
- The affected communities felt our sincerity, and appreciated our good intention.
- We employed responsible, timely, reliable, and truthful proactive messaging.
- We anticipated consequence management.
Chapter 22: Challenges and Difficulties
“Yes, there were a lot of challenges and difficulties that we encountered during the crisis but JTF Marawi had the best pool of talents from the security forces under our disposal. We were also grateful for the cooperation and support extended to us by our Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, his entire administration, our ASEAN partners and the rest of the leaders of the free world, LGUs, traditional elders, volunteers, stakeholders, IDPs, the youth, and the local community at large. How else can we fail?” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
As government forces continued to advance and take control of enemy strongholds, the JTF Marawi continued to engage stakeholders and community key leaders in the outskirts of the City of Marawi with several challenges and difficulties observed:
- Sustaining the gains of the previous CMO activities done at the height of combat operations during the Battle of Marawi — There were a number of CMOrelated activities in the areas of: information operations and social media, community and stakeholder engagements, and media engagement which we used. Now that the actual combat operations are over, should the previous CMO gains cease as well? Definitely not, for the influences and remnants of the terrorist sympathizers may still be in existence. There is always the possibility that violent extremist groups can reorganize, continue recruitment, and possibly launch another terrorist attack. Hence, the work of the CMO should not stop here, but should however, be carried on and intensified. Active community engagements empowered local leaders in the entire Province of Lanao Del Sur and created an impact in the communities that they serve.
- Drivers of violent extremism still exist — The enemy was defeated in the Battle of Marawi but the narratives, motivation, and ideology of violent extremism linger on no matter how hard the IO cell and the CMOCC worked to counter it. For instance, the orphans, families, friends, sympathizers, network, and the media used by the ISISMaute Terrorist Group are all potential sources of future extremist fighters.
- Appreciating the battle of perception — The overall mission of winning the Battle of Marawi did not entirely rest on just victory obtained through actual combat. It was also a battle of perception, and whoever touched the hearts of the people, wins the war. It was important that the people in evacuation centers find the answers and solutions to the quest of one day being able to return back to their own homes. Until this issue is resolved, the affected people in the conflict areas shall be vulnerable targets of future terrorist recruitment. The terrorists shall forever exploit these issues. It only took five months to change the perception of the local community, but it will take years to rebuild their beloved city. After winning the trust and confidence of the people, the Army should sustain its community engagements which empowered the people and gave them a voice in shaping their destiny.
- CMO operators were last priority in logistical support — CMO operators who were tasked to support our combat units in the frontline lacked protective gear. They were the last priority in terms of in-kind and logistical support. Our personnel even resorted to buying their own protective gear.
- JTG misnomer — JTG Tabang was not in actuality a ‘Joint’ operations of CMOs from the Airforce, Navy, Police, and Army. In reality, only CMO personnel from the Army manned JTG Tabang.
- Reminiscence of ugly past — The negative military image created by Martial Law’s implementation in the 70s is still remembered by the people of Marawi City.
- Lacking skills — Some of our personnel who lack the knowledge and skills in engaging stakeholders and harnessing community support, may have hindered the successful implementation of CMO activities, thus, this was not optimized.
- No templates — Absence of crisis templates based on the local context and culture affected the flow of operations.
- Lacking resources — The lack of resources to support our initiatives, programs, activities, and personnel on the ground hindered the facilitation of the conduct of our CMO activities and other aspects of our operations.
- Lacking human resource — Since Task Force Bangon Marawi did not have enough manpower, JTG Tabang provided support and security for the former’s operations. At the same time, JTG Tabang used this opportunity to engage the locals in dialogue.
Challenges During Ongoing Relief Operations
- Some of the agencies and organizations that partnered with us were only interested on gaining credit and recognition for themselves during distribution of relief goods, and also while we engaged communities in other joint activities.
- NGOs, POs, and NGAs identified the evacuation centers they wanted to be involved in. Naturally, they chose the more presentable IDP facilities and easily preferred those that were accessible to media coverage.
- While they utilized military trucks to transport relief goods and asked for soldiers as security escorts, NGOs did not allow soldiers to actually participate in the actual distribution.
- There were some groups of civilians who disregarded the military instructions regarding the safety precautions for the conduct of relief distribution.
- There was a large number of non-IDPs who were not in the checklist held by the LGUs, nevertheless, they received relief goods during the distribution. The issued tickets stubs proved useless.
Summary: Barometer of Tactical Victories
“We have broken down the barriers of trust in Marawi City, made a difference in the lives of the communities, and earned people’s respect.” — Lt Gen Rolly Bautista
Our Community and Stakeholder Engagements in Marawi City served as the barometer for translating our tactical victories in the MBA into a moral victory. This legitimized the conduct of our operations and elicited the admiration of the nation.
One of the challenges that we encountered during the crisis was the negative perception of the affected communities for any uniformed personnel such as the long standing grudge of the Maranaos against soldiers during the Martial Law of the 70s.
“We consider it a great privilege and an honor to be of service to the community during times of crisis. It is during trying times such as these when people feel a sense of comfort simply by seeing our security forces empathize with their loss. The CMO Coordinating Center was instrumental in assuring that every word or deed, could make a difference in the lives of the affected communities. They will always remember this – we were there during the times when they needed our utmost attention, care, and protection,” Lt Gen Rolly Bautista said.
The only reason why our soldiers are willing to sacrifice even up to the point of death is simply because we live by our oath: “Protecting the people and securing the land.” Therefore, it goes without saying, that our security forces will not allow our own people, nor their families or communities, especially our brothers and sisters in the South to loose their rights, liberties, nor their lands.
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- OG7, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army (2017). JTFM7 Digital Media Operations After Activity Report/Dated 10 Oct. 2017
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- Philippine Army. (2017). #TeamTabak Digital Media Team: Efficiency in Technology/Retrieved on Nov. 27, 2017
Book 4 Production Team
Lt Gen Rolando Joselito D Bautista AFP
Commanding General, Philippine Army
Maj Gen Robert M Arevalo AFP
Vice Commander, Philippine Army
Maj Gen Danilo Chad D Isleta AFP
Chief of Staff, Philippine Army
Maj Gen Gilbert I Gapay AFP
Former Chief of Staff, Philippine Army
Lt Col Jo-ar A Herrera (Inf) PA
Director, Operations Research Center (P), Philippine Army
Isabel Cojuangco Suntay
Editor-at-large / Production Team Leader
Atty. Melvin G Calimag
Ms Cheryl Ann M. Martinez-Dancel
Enrique A Suarez
Marlon C Magtira
Online Editor / Writer
Sgt William C Sajul (MS) PA
Pfc Jerry R Sibuyan (Inf) PA
Graphic/ Layout Artist
1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, PA
Civil-Military Operations Regiment, PA
Joint Task Force Marawi
Civil Relations Service, AFP
Production Team Support Staff
Maj Isidro DG VIcente (INF) PA
Deputy Director, ORC (P), PA
Maj Donny N Ravago (MI) PA
Chief, Policy Studies Branch, ORC (P), PA
Cpt Franco Salvador M Suelto (INF) PA
Chief, Admin Branch, ORC (P), PA
Cpt Glenn D De Ramos (INF) PA
Asst Chief, Admin Branch, ORC (P), PA
Cpt Leonard P Del Rosario (INF) PA
Chief, Strategic Branch, ORC (P), PA
Cpt Menard S Rocero (INF) PA
Chief, Policy and Special Studies Section, ORC (P), PA
Lt Col Elmer B Suderio GSC (INF) PA OCG, PA
Maj Jelson Buyuccan (INF) PA OCG, PA
Maj George B Delos Angeles (CE) PA OG1, PA
Maj Jan B Molero (INF) PA OG2, PA
Maj Cesar Deocampo III (INF) PA OG3, PA
Maj Donato A Molina Jr (QMS) PA OG4, PA
Maj Geomar L Pipit (INF) PA OCG, PA
Maj Maria Lourdes E Ranario PA OCG, PA
Cpt Kim L Apitong (INF) PA OCG, PA
Cpt Aris A Gerero (INF) PA OCG, PA
Cpt Jommel Ray P Parreño (INF) PA OCG, PA
Cpt Marc Anthony G Romero (SC) PA OG6, PA
Cpt Apple Ann L Belano (AGS) PA OG9, PA
Tsg Melvin P Saludes (SC) PA ORC (P), PA
Ssg Harold L Carbonell (OS) PA TDC, TRADOC, PA
Ssg Loin V Labilles (Inf) PA OCG, PA
Sgt William C Sajul (MS) PA ORC (P), PA
Sgt Ronie M Halasan (OS) PA ORC (P), PA
Cpl Renz Michael T Endaya (Inf) PA OCG, PA
Pfc Jerry R Sibuyan (Inf) PA ORC (P), PA
Pfc Marlon B Malalis (Inf) PA ORC (P), PA
Pfc Joyce T Jimenez (Inf) PA AAR, PA
Pvt Eva May S Abian (Inf) PA ORC (P), PA
Mary Chriszelle M Puzon CE OG1, PA
Jinky Marie R Semaña CE OG2, PA
Aila Marielle S Conopio CE OG2, PA
Abner H Manuel Jr CE OG2, PA
Pamela Chelsea M Ortiz CE OG3, PA
Chryss Frederick R Pascual CE OG5, PA
Samantha Nicole C Suarez OG6, PA
Melrick B Lucero CE OG7, PA
Alexis Faye A Villegas CE OG8, PA
Gayle P Bitarra CE OG9, PA
Ma Sheyna Elayne G Delos Reyes CE OAGAD, PA
Paolo K Mangulabnan CE RDC, ASCOM, PA
Mereniza D Gomez
Mavreen Jackie P Yapchiongco
Princess Fame I Pascua
Ivon Claire C Domingo
Ian Irving C Bacungan
Nenia A Dulom
Llynette Sheila R Binasoy
Bernadette N Patañag
Harold E Canlas
Jayrald M Vasquez
Juan Paolo L Magtira
Special thanks to:
The offices of Coordinating, Technical, Personal, and Special Staff of the Headquarters, Philippine Army