The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is prepared for the possibility that militants loyal to the Islamic State might launch another attack, months after the Marawi siege.
This was the assurance made by Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. in response to a statement made by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim that “chances of having another Marawi cannot be overruled.”
“Of course from our experience in the Marawi siege, we are preparing for another urban warfare. In eventuality that similar to Marawi happens, we should be ready,” Brawner said during the regular Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) press briefing in Malacanang Friday.
Brawner said the AFP has been reorganizing, reequipping and retraining its units in preparation for another possible urban warfare in Mindanao.
“From the side of AFP, we are ready for another Marawi siege whether it will happen in Marawi or elsewhere,” he assured.
As of now, Brawner said Marawi and Lanao del Sur are relatively safe and secured but outside the areas particularly around Lanao lake, three encounters occurred since January.
Brawner believes that the ISIS-inspired Maute group is still recruiting members.
He, however, clarified that the ISIS-inspired terrorists “still have no capabilities to launch similar attack they did in Marawi”.
Brawner, meanwhile, said crime rate within Marawi and Lanao del Sur was almost zero, owing it to the martial rule that President Rodrigo Duterte declared in Mindanao brought by the five-month Marawi City conflict in 2017.
“Martial law is very effective. For one, we have not monitored individuals carrying firearms. Since martial law implementation, there are no cases of murder, homicide or other killings within Marawi and Lanao del Sur,” he said.
Due to martial law, Brawner said law enforcers were able to control and prevent the entry of people who are not from Marawi or suspected members of the terrorist groups.
Brawner has appealed for support from the MILF to help military troops in their campaign against violent extremism, terrorism and radicalism.
“We are banking on MILF to help us on this (advocacy),” he said. PNA