UNLESS the offered help is coming from the Islamic State and its known sympathizers, the Philippine government should welcome without reservations all assistance being offered by other countries and international organizations for ending the battle of Marawi and the reconstruction and revival of our premier Islamic city.
Attention should focus on this consideration as the conflict irrevocably points towards the victory of government forces and the defeat of the IS-inspired Maude group.
National interest should not aspire for victory by Philippine forces alone. We should not hold in doubt how vital and indispensable has been the role of the international coalition in the total struggle against IS in Mosul, Raqqa, and also in Malawi.
The counter-terrorist offensive against IS is decisively succeeding because the contribution of each coalition member has been unstinting and heroic. The focus now is a quick end to the fighting so that more lives are saved and reconstruction can begin.
The latest word from Mosul is cheering. Iraq through it prime minister, has declared victory in Mosul. Iraqi forces are now retaking the last patch of ground in Mosul held by Islamic State militants. The Iraqi special forces are closely backed by US-led coalition airstrikes.
When victory is complete, Mosul will be the biggest defeat yet of IS.
Victory in Raqqa should follow soon.
And then will final victory in Marawi.
In the same way that the fight against the Islamic State has become a coalition effort of several states, the Philippines should involve the assistance of other states in fully liberating the city of Marawi and dispelling the terrorist threat throughout Mindanao.
The reason the fight against IS is winning in Mosul, Raqqa and Marawi, is because members of the coalition forces have pulled together to carry the fight. The local state and democr4tic forces have proven themselves in combat. The forces of the United States, Britain, France, and other European states, and Russia have figured prominently in tipping the struggle against the Islamic State.
It is in the spirit of applauding the coalition that we welcome the offer of the United States to help in the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi. We also applaud the extension by Australia of assistance in the battle of Marawi. These gestures are all invaluable.
Filipinos do not forget that Marawi is our premier Islamic city. It is home for some 22 million people, and to 200,000 individuals whose houses were destroyed by the clashes between government forces and the IS-inspired Maute group.
It was good to see President Rodrigo Duterte and US Ambassador Sung Kim hold a productive discussion on the terrorist threat in the region, and the role the US can play in Marawi’s reconstruction.
We also should not forget that the US is now assisting in various projects relating to governance, peace and security, education, health, environment and city services in Mindanao.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is right to stress that Marawi rehabilitation work must proceed immediately once the conflict in the city ends.
He said: “Once the fighting stops, I would like to start the rehabilitation immediately and then, all the bulldozers, and other equipment we need, the (building materials), the cement, steel bars, galvanized sheets (must be readily available) along with the laborers.”
For the people of Marawi, no less than for the nation, reconstruction cannot begin soon enough.