Palace vows: Government won't allow ISIS in Philippines

THE Duterte administration will do its best to thwart the presence of the Jihadist terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in the country, Malacañang said on Tuesday, March 12.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured the public that the government would undertake security measures to defeat the IS.

"We should undertake measures to prevent that from happening," the Palace official said.

Panelo's statement came following report by Washington-based New York Times that the IS "has attracted a range of militant jihadists" in the southern Philippines.

IS has "sprouted elsewhere," such as in Mindanao, according to the March 9 article published by the New York Times and titled, "How ISIS is Rising in the Philippines as It Dwindles in the Middle East."

"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 fighter. What is left is a tiny village in southeast Syria that could fall any day," the report read.

"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.

The presence of IS in the southern part of the Philippines has begun to emerge when the Maute terror group, which pledged fealty to the IS terrorists, laid siege to Marawi City on May 23, 2017.

The Marawi siege has prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial rule, which will end on December 31, 2019.

Asked if the government is concerned about the New York Times's report, Panelo said, "Oh definitely."

"I will have to ask the Department of National Defense because they are the ones monitoring the movements of these people," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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