Palace: PH to remain vigilant despite death of IS leader Baghdadi

Published October 28, 2019, 4:01 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the Philippines will not be complacent and will continue to secure the country despite reports of the death of the leader of the Islamic State of (IS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after United States President Donald Trump announced that Baghdadi died after a US military raid in northwest Syria over the weekend.

In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said Trump’s announcement was good news, especially to countries affected by IS. However, he said Baghdadi’s death did not mean that IS will also cease to exist.

“That’s good news for countries who have been terrorized by the ISIS. But then again, the leader of one group does not mean the extinction of that band of terrorists,” he said.

The Philippines had its share of dealing with the kind of terror that could be sown by IS-inspired groups when Maute terrorists laid siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur for five months in 2017.

According to Panelo, the Philippines will continue to secure the country despite Trump’s declaration that Baghdadi has died.

“As I said, the death of the leader does not mean the extinction of their group. But then, it may also cause discouragement to the part of the terrorist group. But as far as we’re concerned, whether the leader dies or not, we will secure that part of our country from them, ” he said.

Almost two years after Marawi City was liberated from the IS-inspired terrorists, President Duterte said last month that the IS still sent chills up and down his spine. He also admitted that he was afraid of the IS entering the Philippines again.

“Itong IS is something that I am really scared. Nagpapawis ang kamay ko ‘pag iniisip ko (My palms sweat just thinking about it),” he said September this year.

“It’s a worldwide… Forget Abu Sayyaf, forget about the Maute. Anong kalaban natin diyan is the terrorists, the IS-connected… At hindi ito madadala (What we’re up against are the IS-connected terrorists and we cannot take it lightly),” he added.

‘This is a mass insanity that cannot be cured just as — it’s just like an epidemic,” he continued.

Early this year, Duterte revealed that he has been praying to God to spare the country from the threat of IS, saying he will not allow the terrorist group to wreak havoc in the Philippines anew.

“Meron po akong IS at ito yung nagbibigay sa akin ng kaba talaga. I am not a person easily swayed itong mga dito, but… nakikita naman niyo, nababasa naman ninyo— CNN, you go to YouTube, wherever you are—makita ninyo ngayon (I’m still thinking about IS and that makes me nervous. I am not a person who is easily swayed but you see what’s happening on CNN or on YouTube, wherever you are),” he said.

The President said he was afraid that a lot of people will die if IS reenters the Philippines. However, he assured that he will not allow it to happen.

“Ang tinatakutan ko yung (What I’m scared of is)… just like Iraq, Syria na maraming inosenteng taong nadadali. Talagang ako’y nagdarsal (where a lot of innocent people died. I’m really praying),” Duterte said.

“Talagang lumuluhod ako sa Diyos na (I really need in front of God) to spare us the kind of brutality and cruelty in our country because it will really be bloody. Bloody as it can ever be,” he added.

“Ayaw kong mag-umpisa. Ayaw ko naman sa panahon ko na gagawin mo sa akin ‘yan. Do it some other time pero ‘wag sa akin. Hindi talaga ako papayag at hindi ako magpalugi (I don’t want to start it. I don’t want it to happen within my term because I will not allow it and I will not go down without a fight),” he continued.

President Duterte has been slamming IS and other terrorist groups especially after the five-month war in Marawi City. At the beginning of 2019, Duterte enjoined the people of Mindanao to stand together against the threats of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State, which has done nothing but kill innocent people.

“We must stand together. May mga diperensya diperensya (there are differences), but we must stand together against violence, against ISIS, because they do not know anything but to kill,” Duterte said.

Duterte has repeatedly called the IS ideology as corrupt and bankrupt.