MANILA — So that the Philippines will not become the next ISIS Wilayah (territory or province), the Department of National Defense (DND) has ordered all military intelligence units to intensify their operations against the terrorists and their sympathizers in the Philippines.
“In fulfillment of President Rodrigo Duterte’s to address that concern, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been directed to intensify its intelligence gathering activities on ISIS inspired groups and their supporters not only within our borders but also beyond,” said DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
He said these efforts were inspired by the Chief Executive’s concern that after the illegal drug menace, terrorism has became the next greatest threat in the Philippines, citing stronger ISIS connections with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and Maute Group, who in turned are always planning to conduct fresh atrocities against the civilians in Mindanao.
Just recently, the AFP has conducted several hard-hitting operations against ASG Isnilon Hapilon, the professed ISIS leader in the Philippines, in his Butig town, Lanao Del Sur enclave, severely wounding the bandit chief aside from causing numerous casualties among his followers last Jan. 26.
The wounded ASG leader is notorious for beheading captives, bombing population and business centers and other atrocities in various parts of Mindanao.
And so that ISIS will not gain a concrete foothold in the Philippines, Lorenzana has also instructed the Philippine intelligence community to coordinate closely with their ASEAN counterparts so that the threat can be totally nipped in the bud.
“Our intelligence community are actively engaged with their ASEAN counterparts and other foreign counterparts as well as local folks in our communities so that this menace will be kept in check before it takes solid root,” the DND chief added.
Aside from this, constant military operations are always being undertaken against the ASG and other ISIS adherents to keep them off balance and always on the run.
This is emphasized by the incumbent AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año’s self-appointed six-month deadline to totally eradicate the lawless groups in Mindanao.
This order has been punctuated by frequent operations against the bandits, resulting in numerous deaths and casualties among the ASG members and their allies.
“Furthermore, the AFP has increased its operational tempo against the terrorists so that they will not have any breathing room in the areas they are in,” the DND chief added.
And as further support, Lorenzana also cited the recent trilateral patrol agreement with Malaysia and Indonesia so that terrorist activities in the common maritime areas in the Sulu Sea will be stopped.
“We have launched the trilateral patrols with Malaysia and Indonesia to curtail the terrorists operations in the Sulu Sea,” he added. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA/northboundasia.com