The military said last week that it had cleared Marawi’s grand mosque, which the militants had used as a headquarters and where they were initially believed to have taken dozens of hostages.
Afterward, Mr. Duterte visited to try to give a boost to his troops here. He put on a flak jacket and fired a sniper rifle in the militants’ direction, again emphasizing his tough-guy image.
But for Camalia Baunto, whose entire clan voted last year for Mr. Duterte with his promise to bring peace and stability in the often violent region of Mindanao, the president’s war to flatten Marawi has been a rude awakening.
Her husband, Nixon, 41, was trapped in the ruined city. She and their six children lost contact with him, apparently after his mobile phone died. When soldiers finally got to the family’s house, they said it was empty.
“It’s so painful because the military could have rescued him earlier,” Ms. Baunto said, sobbing as her youngest child, Shayka, 3, hugged her. “We voted for the president! Please, please, help us bring out my husband alive. We are just ordinary people.”
Within the city, the army maintains that the militants have been pinned down to a few square blocks. But commanders acknowledge that the fighters are well supplied with weapons and food. And the regional branch of the Islamic State here will certainly see their holdout as a propaganda coup.
Mr. Abuza, at the National War College, called the siege a “strategic victory” for the militants. “After all of this, Southeast Asia is all of a sudden an important player in the ISIS world.”
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