By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte warned yesterday of “dark clouds ahead” particularly in Mindanao and vowed to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities in its fight against terrorism.
The President said the country is not yet done with its fight against terrorism despite its victory in the five-month war against ISIS-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur last year.
“Just be put on notice that we are not yet over the hump in our troubles with the law and order particularly in some parts of the Philippines. Mindanao is one area which you have to look with guarded eyes,” he said, adding that ISIS remains to be a wildcard in Mindanao.
“Maybe inuna ko lang ‘yung ((Maybe I’m just prioritizing first our) defense because I said there’s a — I see dark clouds ahead,” he said in a speech in Pampanga Tuesday.
“So inuna ko muna ‘yung (So I’m taking care first of) matters that would make us strong,” he added.
“Dito sa Luzon, medyo maganda nang kaunti (The situation is Luzon is quite better). It is not really as bad as down there in Mindanao because the fighting is limited to certain groups but not fronts,” he added.
The President also reminded the public of their role in keeping the law and order in the country.
“As we go along with our governance, there are many things which I would like to pass on to you na dapat (that should be) — the role of the citizen of this country,” he said.
President Duterte earlier explained that Mindanao is the only possible place in Southeast Asia where the ISIS will go to after being driven out of the Middle East due to the number of infidels or non-Muslims there.
Last month, a firefight occurred between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and remnants of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur. The said firefight prompted the evacuation of around 500 families.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the firefight only proves that martial law is still needed in Mindanao as there are still enemies in the region.
Government forces had won its five-month battle against the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur in October last year. The military was able to kill terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
When the war erupted on May 23, 2017, President Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
When martial law expired the following month, Congress gave it a six-month extension. In December last year, Congress extended martial law anew until December 31, 2018.