1st year of Marawi siege a time to reflect, not celebrate: SAP Go

MANILA Rather than commemorate the start of the Marawi terror siege, the country should instead reflect on the lessons brought by this dark chapter in Philippine history, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Bong Go said Wednesday.

(We should reflect) to prevent a similar incident from happening again in any part of our country and to sustain our efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate the city, he said in a statement.

Go said President Rodrigo Duterte did not visit Marawi City for the commemoration of the first year of the bloody siege, and will instead attend the commemorative rites on the liberation of the war-torn city.

The start of the Marawi siege is something that is not worth celebrating. And for being such, the President is not keen on visiting Marawi a year after it was desecrated by members of the ISIS-Maute group, Go said.

In his next visit, the President wants to see Marawi rising again and Maranaos going back to their normal lives. Presently, the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi are going well and 70 percent of residents already went back to their homes, he said in Filipino.

On May 23 last year, a group of Maute terrorists entered the bustling city of the south carrying black flags with ISIS logo and started their assault by taking priest Fr. Chito Soganub and other civilians as hostage.

Government troops responded, prompting Duterte to cut short his Russia trip and put Mindanao under martial rule.

The conflict ended five months later after Maute's top leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, were killed by the military.

During the five-month siege, the Commander-in-Chief visited Marawi City seven times including on Oct. 17, 2017 to declare the liberation of the war-torn city.

During the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Navy on Tuesday, Duterte took full responsibility for the shortcomings of the way the Marawi siege was handled, saying the government could have done better.

"We had a very sad experience in the Marawi siege. And we all know that we have fallen short in some respects the way it was handled. I assume full responsibility, "Duterte said.

Duterte said he did not anticipate that the war would reach five months, leaving Marawi City in ruins.

"All of these faults, if it is indeed one, or our faults, it belongs and it falls on my shoulders as Commander-in-Chief. And I assume full responsibility to the nation of what's going to happen, "Duterte said.

The Marawi siege had left over 1,000 terrorists, 167 government troops and more than 100 civilians dead.

According to Task Force Bangon Marawi, the total amount of damages and losses has reached to PHP17 billion while more than PHP51 billion will be needed to rehabilitate the strife-torn city. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency