The battle for Marawi City is degrading into a protracted stalemate between Philippine government troops and Maute terrorists holed up in buildings in the city centre. Though clearly enjoying superior firepower and logistical support, the Philippine military’s progress in retaking Marawi has tapered off. Despite sustaining heavy aerial bombardment, the enemy has proven difficult to root out.
Yet, though much of Marawi City had already been reduced to rubble, the only thing standing in the way of applying an even more effective scorched-earth strategy to crush the invaders is public relations (PR). According to a recent New York Times report…
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The Philippine military says that the militants are using mosques and madrasas as bases for fighting, including for the placement of sniper nests. It has complained that it can’t attack these buildings because they are protected as cultural monuments.
Various reports have also indicated that a significant number of civilians remain in areas where fighting is heaviest. The popular view is that these civilians are hostages being held by the enemy for use as human shields. However, there is also speculation making the rounds in social media that some of these civilians may actually be there voluntarily supporting these terrorists.
It has come to a point where the confronting question needs to be asked:
Should Marawi City be bombed to smithereens to prevent any further casualties amongst Filipino soldiers?
In short, do we have the appetite to lose more of our boys in this war just to preserve “cultural icons” and save the remaining civilians in the battle zone? These questions become more important as more Filipino soldiers die in this war. When the number of military casualties surpass the number of civilians holed up with the enemy in Marawi, what then? Are “cultural artefacts” and civilian lives of dubious allegiance more important than Filipino soldiers’ lives?
These are thorny questions considering the Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country and, as such, one that regards Islamic terrorism with abject horror and a growing contempt that may eventually eat into any further appetite for humanitarian initiatives aimed at the perceived “victims” of this conflict.
Even today, Mindanao is but a distant colonial hinterland to the citizens of Imperial Manila where policy is decided and, therefore, where the most important PR battles that may infuence military decisions in the near future will be fought. The peacenik movement that is inclined towards casting doubt on the “wisdom” of military policy and routinely second-guessing the military command consists of various cliques of “influencers” generally associated with the Philippines’ “civil” society, perhaps, albeit arguably, Filipino liberals and their so-called Liberal Party. It is this clique that will likely oppose any decision to grant license to the Army to go harder on Islamic terrorism at the expense of cultural artefacts and remaining civilian lives. It does not help either that members of these cliques, as a matter of personal choice, are virulently opposed to the administration of current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Yet it is important to note that the most important liberal icons in Manila are predominantly-Catholic in nature. The most prominent monument erected to that most celebrated liberal political triumph in recent Philippine history, the 1986 People Power “revolution”, is an enormous statue of the blessed Virgin Mary. At present, there are no Islamic monuments of consequence associated with this “revolution”. Indeed, it could be argued that at the height of the euphoria that immediately followed that “revolution”, Filipinos’ Muslim “brothers” in Mindanao were fully cut out of the Yellow Catholic narrative that went on to rule Filipinos’ minds for three decades.
For the imperative military decision at hand to be sufficiently contextualised, we need to look back further — back to World War II when Manila was “liberated” by American troops — to appreciate what is at stake. According to a Washington Post feature on the topic, “The American campaign to retake the city the Japanese had captured four years prior led to its virtual destruction; the old Spanish colonial heart of the capital, Intramuros, was reduced to ash and rubble.” Furthermore…
“The destruction of Manila was one of the greatest tragedies of World War II,” wrote William Manchester, an American historian and biographer of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. “Of Allied capitals in those war years, only Warsaw suffered more. Seventy percent of the utilities, 75 percent of the factories, 80 percent of the southern residential district, and 100 percent of the business district was razed.”
A feature report published by Rappler went as far as asserting that The Americans Destroyed Manila in 1945…
The immediate U S objectives in Luzon in early 1945 was to rescue the POWs in Cabanatuan and the internees at the University of Santo Tomas.
Once these were achieved, the Americans turned their attention to Manila and this time, it appeared, avoiding civilian casualties was no longer a concern. In the liberation of the internees, the Japanese custodial force of 150 were allowed to leave under a flag of truce. That was the only time the Americans attempted to negotiate with the enemy.
More to the point, the approach was effective from the point of view of those who sought to win the battle without incurring any further cost…
In the Battle of Manila, “.. which culminated in a terrible bloodbath and total devastation of the city… was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific theater,” the Americans suffered their lowest casualty ratio ever – 1,010 killed out of a total force of 35,000, or less than 3%. Parsons argues further that the high casualty figures could have been part of a deliberate pre-negotiation ploy by the Japanese to discourage an American invasion of Japan, “that the invasion of Japan could only be accomplished at the price of the greatest bloodbath of American manhood the world had ever known.”
The cost of this military triumph, as the author of the Rappler article points out, was, of course, paid for by Filipino civilian lives and the future of a city that, to this day, struggles to regain a cultural glory it once possessed.
These are the same considerations now faced by Filipinos in deciding the fate of Marawi City — and of our fighting men and women over there. More importantly, there is a bigger war at stake, how we, as a people, respond to the advance of the Islamic State into what is perceived to be the weakest link in the overall Southeast Asian effort to defeat them: the Filipino people.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.
16 Replies to “Filipinos need to make a choice: Bomb Marawi City to the ground or sustain more military casualties”
All this is an empty debate as the difference between WWII and now is that at this time civilian were not protecred by what came after the WWII the Geneva Convention additionals protocols that protect civilian.
As you don’t care of protecting innocents as you loudly claim it during the drug on war I guess you are ready to accept than the collateral damages of your option are acceptable… which make you a war criminal…
As for the war on drug I deeply hope your families or relatives will become victim of those wars and methods and then we will see who is the crying baby…
Tsk tsk, wishing death upon others. That makes YOU the only real criminal around here.
The current Geneva Convention is outdated & its NOT very applicable to this post 9/11 era. Right now the terrorists like ISIS, Maute, Al-Qaeda, IRA, etc., etc. are becoming “soldiers” and “freedom fighters” and not ordinary criminals anymore. The time had change.
well, well, well, if the so called hostages are protectors of the mautes’ they should be bomb. and if not, launched the urban special forces. if they (mautes’) have a sniper guns, they cannot do close fighting.
Al Queda, ISIS, and other terrorists do not abide by the “Geneva Convention”…these people are plain scum Islamic Terrorist, who are not part of our humanity. They degrade people; they degrade women ; their religious ideology is antiquated from the 11th century Islamic religious ideology…
There is no solution, but to send them to their “martyrdom”…let them enter their “Paradise…and enjoy their “72 virgins”. You will be helping them, by killing them !
“Should Marawi City be bombed to smithereens to prevent any further casualties amongst Filipino soldiers?”
(“Are “cultural artefacts” and civilian lives of dubious allegiance more important than Filipino soldiers’ lives?”)
These loaded questions are somewhat tantamount (but isn’t really close) to asking a kin to decide whether or not to spend his lifetime savings for the medical requirements of a sickly old dying mother which can probably extend and/or prolong the life but who will, sooner or later, surely and eventually die just the same. It’s a thin line of a choice between the convenience of extending a relationship with the family on one hand and ending the suffering of a kin on the other. Practicality vs. love and affection for a dear one!
Such a question though proved easier to answer in the mind of a young soldier (Private First Class Dhan Ryan Bayot of the 51st Infantry Battalion) when he decided to choose death over being rescued in that Marawi conflict. When he’s clearly in the middle of enemy lines and that death was imminent he radioed his coordinates to his commanding officer and gave an unusual request: “Bombahin na lang ninyo ang location ko, sir!”. Selfless determined patriotism/heroism vs. Instinctive personal survival!
It’s more easier to decide for oneself than for others. But it takes a real leader who will take the responsibility and blame for such a decision that will affect others!
It’s interesting to find out though what exactly is the straight answer of Mr. benignO and other bloggers to this! If it’s a proposal then an answer isn’t necessary!
Funny you should use perspective at an individual level to evaluate what is essentially a macro-level issue; i.e., relevant at a collective national level.
In short, in the bigger scheme of things, there are bigger questions that need to be asked; like this one:
Do the interests/wellbeing of a couple hundred civilians outweigh the interests of 100 million Filipinos?
Clearly, the ISIS threat is one of national consequence that could impact the greater majority of Filipinos. In this regard, the wellbeing of the military overall is at stake here and, as such, raises the question of whether or not staking the Army on the wellbeing of that hundred-odd civlians holed up with ISIS in Marawi City constitutes an optimal deployment of scarce military resources when considering the interests of the entire nation that the Army is supposed to be protecting.
There’s where the thinking needs to be had — not around yet another story of otherwise noble heroism that is now being used as fodder for petty partisan bickering.
This must be the dilemma, the U.S. was facing, when U.S. President Truman was deciding to drop the Atomic Bomb, on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
The Battle of Iwo Jima, Japan was a prelude to what the U.S. forces were facing, before the invasion of Japan… An enemy, who choose death, than surrender. World War II Japanese soldiers, were trained to die for their Emperor Hirohito.
This was the reason, they have Kamikaze pilots, or suicide pilots with planes full of bombs, to be rammed on incoming U.S. invading warship. Same parallel to the Jihadists suicide bombers of today…
There were also “Banzai Charges” of World War II Japanese Infantry Brigades, attacking the U.S. Forces, on frontal assaults, without thoughts of casualties. It was the “charge to death”…it was a fight to death for the World War II Japanese Imperial Army.
It is IRONIC , that we are facing an enemy of the same mindset, in this conflict..the Radical Islamic Jihadists..
Radical Islamic Jihadists will fight to death, for a reward of 72 virgins in Paradise. They do not follow any rules of wars or military engagements.
Mosques and cultural artifacts, can be sacrificed. The lives of our soldiers , are more worthy than these material things. Civilians caught in the conflicts, whether they want to become “human shields or not”, are just unlucky , to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
We can rebuild Marawi City, after this conflict.
So, I urge all the decision makers in the AFP and higher ups in the government; to just drop the “Mother of all Bombs”…help these Idiots, become Jihadists martyrs; and send them to their “Paradise” to enjoy their “72 virgins”…
Yeah you’re right, I plead guilty to that. I should use perspective relevant at a collective level. It’s just a random thought.
Growing up here in Mindanao, what we are being thought of is that this place was governed by the Muslim people and the only way to restore that is fight against invaders. Invaders since the time of Spanish to Japanese up to the people from Luzon and Visayas who migrated in Mindanao. Correct me if I’m wrong, it was Pres. Magsaysay admin
If these idiots have tunnels; just use Flame Throwers; and suck the Oxygen inside their tunnels…or pump Carbon Monoxide (CO), in their tunnels…
Yes, let’s go for radical amputation. Better to sacrifice a finger, than to lose one’s entire arm.
Carpet bombing / pulverizing these last remaining Maute strongholds will send a powerful message to all jihadist wannabes.
Mga Pinoy – puro awa mentality kasi e. Think of the greater common good and learn to make painful sacrifices. Then you’ll be a step closer to becoming a great nation.
Pain was their body’s way of telling them that they’d pushed themselves to their limits — which was exactly where they were supposed to be.
The great U.S. General George Patton, of the World War II 5th Army; one of the best Army Field Commanders, in World War II stated :
” No Bastard, ever won a war by dying for his country. He won the war, by letting the other Bastard die for his country…”
Translated to our present Marawi situation:
“No soldier ever won a war by dying for his country; he won the war by letting the other “soldier” (Radical Islamic Terrorists), die for his cause…”
“Should Marawi City be bombed to smithereens to prevent any further casualties amongst Filipino soldiers?
“In short, do we have the appetite to lose more of our boys in this war just to preserve “cultural icons” and save the remaining civilians in the battle zone? These questions become more important as more Filipino soldiers die in this war. When the number of military casualties surpass the number of civilians holed up with the enemy in Marawi, what then? Are “cultural artefacts” and civilian lives of dubious allegiance more important than Filipino soldiers’ lives?”
If as you sort of suggested this was carried out by the military at the time this article was written, would you see this now as being justifiably right or justifiably wrong, considering that after the Marawi Battle was over, the remaining hostages were saved and were able to come back alive to their respective families?
That’s kinda like looking back and saying “I should’ve bought a lottery ticket” after seeing your neighbour win the jackpot, isn’t it?