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Talking martial law and Marawi to death

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This is partly our fault in the news media—print and broadcast alike—because we do not choose more carefully what to highlight or who to interview in our coverage of what is happening in Marawi City and to martial law in Mindanao, reported The Manila Times (Philippines).

There will be more public understanding and less anxiety and nervousness, if 1) media channels focus on what is really significant in the daily developments and turns in Mindanao; 2) government and military spokesmen will be more thoughtful and discriminating in deciding what to say in their numerous statements on developments there; and3) if opposition politicians and leftwing activists will listen to themselves and refrain from spouting repetitive explanations of their positions on issues.

Take the big development that US special forces have joined in the fight to liberate Marawi. The media has featured endless ramifications and angles about this development, namely, that US assistance was given upon the request of the Philippine military; that President Duterte never personally requested for the help but is nonetheless thankful for it; that the US assistance is strictly for technical purposes and not for combat; or that, according to the Left, the US should not be meddling in this internal problem in the Philippines.

The endless patter serves no purpose; it only diverts attention away from the main objective of our government: that we seek a speedy return to normality by the city of Marawi, and the end of hostilities there.

Politics aside, we should frankly recognize the fact that the US assistance will enormously help in the achievement of the AFP’s prime military objectives of subduing the rebellion and restoring normality of life in Marawi. The US assistance is consistent with the treaty relationship and alliance between our two countries. US technical capability and equipment are the finest for combat and crisis situations. So, we should not look this gift horse in the mouth.

Take also the AFP vow of ending the Marawi crisis by the time Independence Day, June 12, arrived. Well, June 12 came yesterday, and there was still no end to the fighting.

The nation would not have experienced a sense of letdown had the AFP spokesman refrained from making such a bold promise for Independence Day. It uplifted the people briefly. But ironically, the promise may also have motivated the rebels to continue their resistance.

The public would have been less edgy and more calm had there been no salutary prediction to look forward to.

This editorial points out the need for the government forces, the public and the media to refrain from trying to get ahead of events. They should desist from imagining an easy or quick solution to the Marawi situation. There is none.

Marawi City will return to normal if government and the public are less hasty and more discriminating in making conclusions, especially the government in issuing statements on the Marawi situation and martial law in Mindanao.

If talk could end hostilities, the Marawi crisis would have been over by now. Isnilon Hapilon would be in custody.
There is no miracle without hard work.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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