October 1972 Marawi uprising

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Main targets of the uprising

From October 21 to 23, 1972, an armed uprising of Moro people led by an incipient secessionist movement shakes Marawi city, in Lanao del Sur province. The forces of the uprising occupy key pockets of the city, including Camp Amai Pakpak (formerly Camp Keithley) and certain facilities of the nearby Mindanao State University (MSU) campus.

The attacking force, with estimates widely ranging from 100 to 400 armed rebels, begin their attack on Marawi (pop. 55,708) with simultaneous targets. First, they hit a PC detachment guarding Pantar bridge, almost wiping out the seven-man detachment. Pantar bridge is the only bridge leading to the city from the Iligan city airport some 6 km away and the Marine base at Baloi.

They also attack Camp Amai Pakpak several kilometers away and occupy a vacant training barracks, hoisting a red flag atop the building. (Amai Pakpak, formerly U.S. Army Camp Keithley, serves as the PC provincial headquarters for Lanao del Sur, with an undersized-company force.)

The rebels also occupy the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus some 5 km to the west of the city center. At MSU, two prominent Maranao students allied with the rebels use the school's radio station DXSO to call on the city residents to join the uprising.

The initial attack lasts 10 hours.

AFP forces retake the city, MSU campus

In response, the Marcos regime airlifts 300 Marines and Army troops to the city to quell the uprising. A Marine contingent rushes from its headquarters in Maria Cristina, Baloi, Lanao del Norte. It retakes Pantar Bridge, then moves towards Camp Amai Pakpak to reinforce the beleaguered PC elements.

On October 23, at about 10 pm, Marine and PC troops backed by two armored cars regain the MSU campus. Trapped in the fighting inside the campus are some 200 civilians, including a Japanese diplomat. Ambassador Toshio Urabe of Japan, who was staying on the campus as an MSU guest, is among those trapped. He is able to escape the rebels' notice by wearing a fez (Muslim hat) and a batik sarong (in other accounts, a malong).

Immediate outcomes

All in all, the fighting took place inside a 30-mile radius, and included street skirmishes in the center of the city. During the fighting, the provincial capitol building and two commercial buildings in the downtown district were burned down.

According to Department of Public Information (DPI) secretary Tatad, rhe uprising lasted more than 25 hours (36 hrs according to AP), and left at least 59 persons dead: 4 civilians, 49 insurgents (60 according to AP), and 6 (9 according to AP) government troopers, and 1 missing. Some 100-400 rebels (Tatad gave an estimate of 200), including some "foreign-trained" guerrillas took part in the uprising, which raged from 7 am Saturday 21 Oct to 9 am Sun 22 Oct.

Media accounts said it was the fifth and largest clash in Mindanao since Marcos declared martial law a month earlier. By Sunday afternoon, the military claimed having taken back control and restored order inside the city. Marcos vowed he would deal severely with the rebels, calling them "Maoist Muslims."

The military stockade in Marawi was later seen filling up with suspected rebels.

Longer term outcomes

Both Muslim and military scholars later analyzed the Marawi uprising, and came to the conclusion that it preceded and perhaps catalyzed the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front, but was itself not part of a strategic move by what later came to form the MNLF leadership.

Other historical accounts say the uprising was triggered by the Marcos regime's move to effect a massive arms confiscation program among the local Moro population. The regime's first reaction was that it was a "Maoist Muslim" uprising, perhaps based on the rebels' efforts at displaying the red flag in the buildings they were able to occupy.

Sources: The Vancouver Sun, St. Petersburg Independent, New Straits Times, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, AP/UPI wires, unpublished dissertations.

Note: Marawi was also the scene of a fierce battle between Spanish troops and Maranao warriors in 1895--again, anticipating the more generalized Luzon-wide revolt of 1896 that became the Philippine Revolution that overthrew Spanish rule throughout the islands. This earlier battle is described in Dr. Mamitua Saber's Battle of Marawi, 1895, as cited in http://www.scribd.com/doc/27157742/MSU-Newsletter-October-2008.