‘Allah answered my prayers’
MARAWI CITY—“Allah answered my prayers,” Nairah Ampaso, 28, a mother of five, said on Monday after learning that government troops had killed Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, the last two leaders of the pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorists who seized this city nearly four months ago.
“We prayed that these leaders would be killed. I am happy that they are dead,” Ampaso told the Inquirer.
“I hope their deaths mean the end of the war and we can return to our homes,” she said.
Victory over terrorism
In Manila, Malacañang hailed the deaths of Hapilon and Maute as a “clear victory against terrorism.”
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar lauded the Armed Forces of the Philippines for killing the two terrorist leaders and said the government looked forward to rebuilding Marawi.
“This clear victory against terrorism proves the Duterte administration’s resoluteness in delivering on its promise of peace and prosperity to the people of Mindanao,” Andanar said.
Lawmakers also lauded the military for killing Hapilon and Maute, who had pledged allegiance to IS and seized large parts of Marawi on May 23 to establish an IS enclave in Southeast Asia.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, a former military officer, said the deaths of Hapilon and Maute were a “positive development” but he emphasized that first there must be an efficient delivery of basic services to the people to fully combat terrorism and other forms of violence.
“The battle [for] the hearts and minds of our people is not won by body count,” said Honasan, chair of the Senate special committee formed to assess and review the rehabilitation of Marawi.
End of hostilities
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, also a former military officer, said he hoped the deaths of the two terrorist leaders signified the end of hostilities.
“This decisive victory is a fitting honor to our soldiers, both fallen and living, who bravely fought in this campaign,” he said.
Sen. Miguel Zubiri, who is from Mindanao, said he supported keeping martial law in Marawi up to the end of the year to allow full use of human, material and financial resources and ensure the rehabilitation of the city would be achieved in a shorter time.
Sen. Sonny Angara said rebuilding Marawi was the government’s urgent task.
“We must do whatever it takes for the people of Marawi to safely return to their city the soonest possible time and for vital infrastructure to be restored,” he said.
Sen. JV Ejercito called on the government to learn from the lessons of Marawi “by strengthening our intelligence and counterterrorism initiatives.”
The terrorists surprised the military by easily seizing Marawi on May 23, laying siege to it, and lasting nearly four months in battling government forces for control of the city.
Beginning of the end
Catholic bishops said they believed the deaths of Hapilon and Maute would lead to the end of the crisis.
“Crumbling leadership signals the beginning of the end,” Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said.
Ozamiz Bishop Martin Jumoad said the deaths of the two terrorist leaders meant “the victory of peace and order in our society.”
“Praise God. This serves as a lesson that evil must be conquered so that goodness may reign,” he said.
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee, said the deaths of the two terrorist leaders indicated that the war was coming to an end.
“We are very happy. This is what we are waiting for. This is an indication that the war is over,” he said.
For Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, the deaths of Hapilon and Maute meant “the end of the siege of Marawi.”
But “it also marks the beginning of a long but necessary process of healing and recovery among our people,” he added. –Reports from Jeoffrey Maitem, Richel Umel, Allan Nawal, Julie S. Alipala. Philip C. Tubeza, Jocelyn R. Uy and Tina G. Santos
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