In May 2017, the Maute Group, a jihadist group acting in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) seized Marawi, a lakeside economic hub in the province of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines. It took the Filipino military five months to regain control of the city. Now, more than a year after the siege began, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration in Manila appears overwhelmed by the task of reconstructing the destroyed city.
Manila should enhance measures to involve Marawi’s inhabitants in its reconstruction and the Duterte administration should avoid pronouncements that cast Mindanao militants as hardcore terrorists or “desperate” individuals driven to crime, and focus instead on addressing the grievances that jihadist movements exploit.
The Maute Group, for now, appears weakened, but if Manila mishandles the aftermath of the battle for Marawi and the reconstruction of that city, similar forces could easily arise in the years to come.