Marawi is a king-size headache of Duterte » Manila Bulletin News

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By Elinando B. Cinco

Elinando B. Cinco

The widely media covered siege of Marawi City, now on its 14th day, has long-lasting adverse repercussions that President Duterte does not deserve. The more days it takes to contain the insurrection by the Maute terror group, the more his problems will escalate into a full-blown headache of leadership.

First, the assault is an indication that he may not be the Mindanao kingpin that his handlers in Davao City and in Malacañang are telling the astonished public.

Second, the Maute’s storming right in the heartland of Islam in Mindanao is an affront to him who always takes pride of the fact, in public speeches, that 25 percent of the blood running in his veins is Maranaw.

Third, his fans among the heads of state in the ASEAN region who look up to him like a newly found rock star are beginning to entertain doubts as to his prowess as an administrator.

Fourth, his regional and international admirers have become uncomfortable by his proclamation of martial law, questioning his executive skills as a ruler by his asking of succor from the military.

Fifth, big businesses located in provinces known for industrial peace are reportedly angered by President Duterte’s use of extraordinary power of martial law throughout Mindanao even if the site of insurrection is hundreds of kilometers away from their concession.

In essence, these industrialists are wary, especially if he institutes curfew hours that will dislocate workers in three-shift work.

Ostensibly, the major downside of the whole situation that is happening there now is the possible erosion of public admiration and confidence for the Chief Executive. For, as many observers note, he has nowhere to go but up.

As to why DU30 is not deserving of those five adversities enumerated above, it is because he is not a provocateur in the conflict. He is being challenged.

The Mautes, in cahoots with the dreaded international terror group known as ISIS, and supported by remnants of Abu Sayyaf from Sulu and Basilan, are testing the President’s mettle by provoking his strength as a national leader. And evaluating his skills to crack the whip to get the Muslim population to his side.

Reports gathered by nearly a hundred media personalities in the battle field said there are almost 200 military, police, and civilian casualties.

Those, plus, the devastation of the summer capital of Mindanao are just too heavy to bear for a man who was perceived as a mystic leader by Filipinos during last year’s presidential elections.

Today, DU30 faces his adversaries using aerial bombardment, artillery cannons, and machinegun fire.

Neutral observers are in doubt as to the statements issued by defense and military officials that the siege will be over in 14 days in favor of the government forces.

The front-page story in The Manila Bulletin’s issue of June 2 said there were still 100 Maute combatants in the embattled city.

Last Wednesday a black footprint of the Davao legend was deemed uglier by observers. An Air Force plane mishit its target and dropped a bomb on a group of Army soldiers preparing to assault a reported Maute hideout in the city. Killed were 11 enlisted men and scores of others.

Earlier on the same day, TV film clips showed three battalions of Marine reinforcements were flown to Marawi City.

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