AFP urged to probe intelligence failure in Marawi attacks
MANILA — Two senators said on Wednesday that the country’s security forces most likely suffered a failure of intelligence for something as big as the Marawi City attacks by the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group to happen.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Juan Miguel Zubiri urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to address the failures and lapses.
The two, in separate interviews, shared the view that a big group of armed militants such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group would not have been able to enter a big city like Marawi and proceed to burn properties, kill and wound law enforcers and kidnap people. Simply put, the situation would not have deteriorated so much that President Duterte had to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao.
Lacson wondered why law enforcers were not able to intercept any information on the planned attacks on Marawi when the AFP and the PNP have been actively hunting down Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon, who was among those who participated in the Marawi raid.
“You can call it that (failure of intelligence). Because how could a big armed group enter the city (Marawi) and at a time when the Philippine National Police was conducting operations against (Isnilon) Hapilon,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson told reporters.
Lacson was referring to police and military operations to capture Hapilon, a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group reportedly chosen to lead an Islamic State Group in Southeast Asia.
Hapilon was said to be hiding in Marawi and recovering from wounds he sustained in a military air strike in January.
Lacson said authorities should have learned from the 2015 Mamasapano massacre of elite police men by armed Muslim groups. The botched rescue operations for the policemen led to their killing.
“But why did it happen again? ” he said, in reference to the resulting bloody clashes between government forces and Maute members.
Still, he said it might be early to judge if indeed there was intelligence failure given that reports were still hazy.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed his belief that somebody, somewhere failed in intelligence gathering and assessment judging from the audacious entry of armed groups in a big city like Marawi.
“The military by now should have a proper security protocol for things like this,” Zubiri said as he cited past incidents involving armed groups like the 2013 Zamboanga City siege and the 1995 Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur siege.
He said a quick reaction team from the military should have been in place to thwart attacks by armed elements.
Zubiri expressed hope that Duterte would succeed in neutralizing the armed groups involved in the Marawi attacks during the 60-day martial law. SFM