By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is determined to implement measures to thwart the notorious Islamic State from establishing a stronghold in Mindanao.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo admitted that alleged recruitment of the Islamic State of militants in the south was a cause for concern for the government.
“Definitely, then we should undertake measures to prevent that from happening,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing when asked if the Palace was concerned about reports the Islamic State was eyeing Mindanao as its next regional base.
Panelo said he would ask the Department of National Defense for further information about the Islamic State threat since it was monitoring the movement of such people.
Panelo was reacting to a New York Times’ March 9 report titled “How ISIS Is Rising in the Philippines as It Dwindles in the Middle East.”
The Times reported that the Islamic State, with its dwindling territory in Iraq and Syria, has attracted a “range of militant jihadists” in Mindanao. The group reportedly considers the southern region as its East Asia province.
“The Islamic State’s territory in Iraq and Syria, once the size of Britain, has shriveled after four years of American-backed bombing and ground combat by Kurdish and Shiite militia fighters. What is left is a tiny village in southeast Syria that could fall any day,” the Times wrote.
“But far from defeated, the movement has sprouted elsewhere. And here in the Mindanao island group of the southern Philippines, long a haven for insurgents because of dense wilderness and weak policing, the Islamic State has attracted a range of militant jihadists,” it added.
Last month, the President said the government would give no quarter to the “insane” and “terrible” Islamic State out to sow terror in the country.
The President disclosed that the Islamic State might launch attacks but assured that the government was prepared to use resources, including air strikes, to thwart them.
Duterte also vowed that the government would take no prisoner in the anti-terrorism campaign. He said he would not accept the surrender from Islamic State, which he claimed was “made in hell.”