It was a normal day on May 23rd in the Civil-Military Operations Group, now Civil-Military Operations Regiment, when the news of Daesh-inspired and black clad men attacked the Islamic City of Marawi. The following days reminded us of the Zamboanga City siege in 2013, a city under fire from a faction of the MNLF. It also reminded us of what we are capable of to support the combat units in fighting the terrorists —- not directly as combatants who will engage the enemy face to face but through our loudspeaker operations to give hope in the midst of the war.
A call for safety
As the Philippine Army mobilized its top combat units to fight the Daesh-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, Colonel Thomas R. Sedano, Jr, the Acting Regiment Commander of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, saw the need to support the combat units through loudspeaker operations similar in in Zamboanga.
Not wasting time, the CMOR immediately mobilized its most experienced teams to conduct the loudspeaker operations to support the combat troops for three reasons: to provide instructions to the trapped civilians and guide them to safety; boost the fighting morale of the combat troops; and demoralize the enemy and convince them to surrender.
As the CMOR sent out the two loudspeaker teams and reported to the 103rd Brigade Headquarters, the teams were faced with the daunting task of helping with the rescue operations of thousands of civilians still trapped in their houses, and as a CMO operator, like any other soldiers, mission is paramount even how enormous it may seem.
The team worked out with other units on the ground to accomplish the mission. However, the sight of civilians being guided to safety brought fulfillment to the CMOR’s given mission.
The loudspeaker teams witnessed an astounding sight as thousands of trapped civilians were rescued and eventually reunited with their families in different evacuation centers.
One of the rescued civilian said: “The instructions from your loudspeakers are very clear, especially at night. It is your instructions that we followed to get to safety. We wore white shirts as instructed and the women waved their hands as we got nearer to the safe area.”
And the battle continued
As the battle dragged on, the loudspeaker teams supported the different Joint Task Groups under the Joint Task Force Marawi and were employed to the Main Battle Area to do what was best — to be the voice of hope for the soldiers and hostages and weaken the will to fight of the enemy.
Tactically prepositioned to effectively support the combat units engaging the enemy, the four loudspeaker teams, composed of personnel from the HCMOR, 6th and 1st CMO Battalions, were broken down into stationary teams in marked buildings in the main battle area to conduct simultaneous broadcast from the Radio Broadcast System stationed in Marawi City Hall and the mobile loudspeaker teams who went along with the combat units in respective sectors that faced the same danger as the operating troops.
The Loudspeaker Operations also employed the assistance of \Maranao, Tausug and Maguindanaoan soldiers to effectively deliver the messages to the intended audience.
As the combat units were equipped with the latest firepower to conquer the enemy stronghold, the loudspeaker teams carried the Manpack Loudspeaker (MLX4), spare batteries, amplifiers, the legendary “trompa,” and the will to survive the fierce battle as the teams boosted the morale of the troops and demoralized the enemy.
“The loudspeaker operations were of big help because we were able to send our messages to the enemy and affect their fighting morale,” said Major Esguerra, the Operations Officer of the Joint Task Group Vector, which is composed of units under the Joint Special Operations Group.
During that time, the speakers mounted to the buildings were fired upon by the enemy’s snipers to prevent the loudspeaker teams from broadcasting messages.
Call to surrender
With the battle entering its fourth month and with the intense firefights around the cordoned sector of the MBA, the loudspeaker operations were intensified to call on the Maute-ISIS fighters to surrender and assure them of their safety.
All throughout the day and night, the four teams broadcasted the call to surrender while giving out instructions to those who wanted to surrender on what actions to do without endangering the safety of the operating troops.
The loudspeaker operations came to an innovation when the speakers were mounted to the armored vehicles in the main battle area to penetrate the reported enemy locations and deliver the messages effectively.
The innovation and cooperation of combat units resulted in the surrender of the fighters and the release of many hostages.
With the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute at the hands of the combat troops, the dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate goes with them in death and the loudspeaker teams were there to announce the good news to all the troops in the Main Battle Area.
And the cherished dream happened. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced the liberation of Marawi from the influence of the Daesh inspired terrorists on October 17, nearly five months after the war erupted on May 23.
All of the troops rejoiced with good news and immediately the loudspeaker teams delivered the good news to the rest of the troops to boost their morale and to demoralize the enemy.
After the declaration, the loudspeaker teams, along with the combat troops, did not stop from finishing all the Maute strugglers who were still fighting for survival and were hiding with their hostages at their last occupied positions.
The Loundspeaker Operations Team accomplished a remarkable feat: the security of civilians and hostages. It was a defining moment for operations and sealed the importance of loudspeaker operations in urban warfare, such as the battle in Marawi City.