Oorah and Hooah to the soldiers of the Republic!
The jubilant cheer above was expressed by Rep. Ruffy Biazon, Senior Vice Chair of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, on news of the neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
Maute was the principal leader of the terrorist Maute Group that laid siege on the Islamic City of Marawi in late May.
Hapilon was one of the top leaders of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group who had claimed to have been the anointed emir in Southeast Asia of the international terrorist organization Islamic State.
With Hapilon and Maute dead, the equation may change, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). “If they cannot find another leader immediately, including the infrastructure … what will happen is, since they are leaderless, a lot of followers will abandon the movement,” said Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año at a press briefing hours after Defense Secretary Lorenzana confirmed the deaths.
“This accomplishment will bring peace closer to Marawi in particular and the Country in general. Oorah and Hooah to the soldiers of the Republic!” said Rep. Biazon in a statement to news outlets on Monday.
“In eliminating the top leaders, the strategic decision making and direction of the terrorists will be impaired, giving the AFP an advantage in going after the rest of the group … due to the leadership vacuum. The AFP should exploit this opportunity,” Biazon added.
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said the government will announce the termination of hostilities “once government forces have ensured that there are no more terrorists-stragglers in the city and we have cleared all structures of IEDs and other traps. After the fighting stops, we will refocus our efforts on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi.”
Biazon cautioned that successor terrorists may soon take over “unless those potential leaders are likewise neutralized or the pressure on the terrorists sustained enough to prevent them from reorganizing.”
He also pointed out that the protracted battle “has surely taken its toll on those who fought against the terrorists. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has surely afflicted many of our soldiers and they need the appropriate mental health care as they return from the conflict. Beyond giving them a hero’s welcome, we must ensure that they return to regular life with abnormal state of mind.”
For his part, Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano hoped that the lifting of martial law “in the whole of Mindanao can now be considered sooner than later, as promised by the President.”
In addition, he said, “Rehabilitation of Marawi City must also commence the soonest possible time. These are critical factors in restoring the normalcy in the area.
“Healing and not division, good governance rather than war, livelihood rather than bullets and bombs, understanding rather than curses and threats,” Alejano said. “I call on the President to be the instrument of peace, stability, unity and progress.”
Senator Joel Villanueva said, “with our fervent hope for this war to end soon is also our call for the national government, local officials of Marawi and affected areas, and concerned agencies to ensure speedy and effective coordination among them that will facilitate the provision of immediate support and rehabilitation to the victims of Marawi siege, especially to the displaced communities.”