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Marawi on one’s mind

MANILA

I don’t know Marawi City at all.

But one doesn’t have to know Marawi or be from there to grieve with that luckless city’s residents.

For all intents and purposes, there is no longer a Marawi City. It’s been wiped off the face of the earth.

What it is, is a skeleton of what it once was, a mere shadow of its old self, now just a wraith, an apparition, a memory.

Pity the people of Marawi City.

The city’s residents are aching to go back to their homes now that the Maute terror group has been neutralized.

What homes?

What they would be going back to are just memories, images of their old lives there, remembrances of things past, to borrow from Proust.

The Maute laid siege to a once proud city and leveled it to the ground. Now there’s nothing but rubble. What do you do with rubble? There’s no way to bring back the old city. At best just a replica. As I say above, Marawi City is now just a memory.What happened to Marawi City?

Ambitious fanatics wanted it for themselves. The residents were helpless. The army came to the rescue.

With that, a lot of bluster from the leadership: “One week lang, tapos na ‘yan.”

One week came and went. Another week. And another.

The weeks became months. All in all, it took five months before the government could declare the siege on Marawi over. That’s a lot longer than “one week.” One hundred sixty-three soldiers and policemen died and 1,400 wounded. Sixty government forces are missing, while 47 civilians were killed. Eight hundred forty-seven Maute were killed.

Marawi City used to have 200,000 residents. How many of them will or can go back to their former homes? There’s nothing to go back to.

Now that the battle of Marawi City is over as announced by the government, questions must be asked? Did the military use the right strategy to fight the Maute? Were the bombings all over the city the right kind of offensive to destroy the Maute?

I’ve not written about Marawi until now because I didn’t want to appear to undermine the government side by asking these questions.

Did the government win? Did the Maute lose? Actually, there’s only one side that’s important, that of the residents of Marawi City.

There’s never a winner in a war. As the perceptive current affairs observer Philip Lustre Jr. says, if the government won, it was but a Pyrrhic victory because of its cost: in lives, property and war resources.

What is clear is that the people of Marawi are the losers in the battle of Marawi City. The place is in such total devastation that it will take decades to rebuild it. And it will take a lot longer than that to rebuild the people of Marawi’s lives.Marawi is on one’s mind. With the people of Marawi, one grieves.

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