IN tennis, players sometimes enter the court all strapped up from real or imagined injuries in what is occasionally perceived by rivals as an act of gamesmanship on one hand, or an attempt to prove career-threatening bodily damage on the other.
Those able to read the drama, various reports say, just block off what they believe is a stunt and play their normal, competitive game, lest they get distracted by the thought of treating their opponents more kindly because they seem to be hurting terribly.
Before these bleeding hearts realize it, they have been had and out goes a Grand Slam title that should have been theirs, for having lost their killer instinct when they needed it most against players whose cunning was way better than their serve-and-volleying.
In the ongoing crisis in Marawi City, the Maute Group responsible for the stalemate are hoodwinking government troops into joining them in their little charade of being the underdog in an undeclared war of their own making.
Nearly a week since the start of the siege, reports on Sunday said the group that is linked to the Islamic State was still holed up in “certain areas of the city,” the capital of Lanao del Sur province in southern Mindanao.
To think that the Maute Group and its members that attacked Marawi reportedly numbered only about 300, with some reports even placing it at between 30 and 40.
Another report on Sunday said the military was “trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained.” It shows that fighting is still going on, contrary to the government announcement about soldiers “[having taken]complete control of the city.” Government troops are indeed in control but only in the sense that that they can control who comes in and who goes out, and who moves around and who does not.
Either the Maute raiders are possessed of nine lives or carrying weapons that the military can only dream of, as it is apparently having a difficult time carrying out its job of finishing off all threat groups quickly.
Evidently, the raiders are getting help from within the city itself—relatives, moles, bums, confederates, sympathizers—who should be flushed out by the best means available to the Armed Forces.
To ferret out these people, barangay (village) to barangay, the military should first warn them that they should get out of the line of fire if they are not combatants and come out of their houses or wherever they have been hiding the past seven days.
Refusal to do so should be taken to mean that they have actually been sleeping with the enemy, which is more than enough reason for the authorities to deal with them accordingly.
The Maute Group is using the innocent—the old, the women and children— whom they are holding hostage at gunpoint, constraining the movement of the government troops for fear of collateral damage.
But to dilly-dally is to play into the hands of the terrorists and to play with the lives of thousands of civilians whose only crime is to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Marawi is the test of the government’s strength of mind and will. We demand more decisive action that will validate the Filipinos’ trust and confidence in President Duterte leading them out of harm’s way.
In war, it ain’t over until it’s over, or when every enemy of the state is accounted for by persuasion or attrition.
It is true as well in tennis, where a match is not over until matchpoint is converted even against a player all strapped up on the other side of the court.