DAVAO, Philippines — Tirmizy Abdullah, a teacher in Marawi, wants to know what has happened to his city and why the Philippine military keeps dropping bombs on it.
“They should have been able to end this conflict days ago,” said Abdullah, 27, speaking by phone Friday from his home, within earshot of fighting between government troops and forces linked to the Islamic State. “We are very frustrated with the airstrike campaign because it is putting civilians at risk, it is destroying our town, and still the battle is not over. We are never sure what the government is actually doing.”
Ten days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao to respond to an Islamist siege in Marawi, the capital of Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province, much of the Philippine political establishment has rallied around him. But the military campaign itself has gone much less smoothly, with some local residents and observers questioning the government’s combat strategy and the credibility of its public communications.