Philippines (MNN) – After five months, the Philippines’ military siege in Marawi City is finally over. The city, on the south island of Mindanau, was liberated Tuesday, October 17.
It left over 1,100 people dead, a number which is supposed to include over 900 militants. About 350,000 people have been displaced as a result.
The siege, which began on May 23 earlier this year, was a response to a takeover by Islamic extremists in an attempt to establish a foothold for ISIS in the southern Philippines.
For weeks, the ISIS black flag flew over the city and the extremist group reigned. But over the last five months, Philippines military has been fighting to regain control over the city, and it did. But with this victory comes a word of caution.
“For this city, this particular battle is over. I think some of the rhetoric that has been issued around this, the fact that the defense minister of the Philippines, said now terrorism has been defeated, I don’t think we can quite go that far,” Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton shares.
“I think we can say this battle has been won. Anybody, I think, who watches the Philippines, who knows the situation in the southern Philippines, knows there’s going to be other battles. Thankfully this one has been won, but it doesn’t mean the war is over.”
Battle Won, War Not Over
For example, the Philippines’ government is still in the process of working towards putting a law, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), in place that would create an Islamic autonomous region in the south. The region would be given its own executive, legislative, and fiscal powers.
“If it is passed though, you can sign an entire area over to Islamic law, Islamic control. So, that raises some questions,” Nettleton shares.
“Obviously, questions of religious freedom. Questions of how Christians in that area will be treated. So, there are a lot of questions that the Philippines is still going to be answering in the coming months.”
Despite fighting terrorism being a high priority, the Philippines still has terrorist roots, animosity, and extremism within the Islamic minority.
And while Christians may sometimes seem to be the main target of Islamic terrorists, everyone in Marawi City has suffered from the recent siege.
And if such a situation can’t be prevented in the future, it’s worrisome what the reality of an Islamic autonomous region could look like. Still, the potential law is an attempt by the Filipino government to keep peace in the country.
However, Nettleton shares that despite what’s happening, Christians have still been ministering, witnessing, and winning Muslims to Christ in the region.But with ministry success can come persecution.
Please pray for the Christians in the Philippines– for their safety, and for peace. Pray also for justice and wisdom for the government. Ask God to continue bringing people to Christ and for the Gospel to go forth into the country. And finally, pray for the terrorist roots in the Philippines to be eradicated.
For more ways to pray for persecuted Christians, click here!