The government is bent on combatting terror threats following reports the country has allegedly become a breeding ground for terrorists.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar noted that the military operations against Islamic State-linked rebels in Marawi City are just part of the government’s anti-terror campaign.
“The suspect who said that the Philippines is a breeding ground for terrorists was arrested early this year,” Andanar said. “This government is already aggressively addressing the terror threats as you may notice in the operations that led to his arrest and the battle in Marawi,” he said.
Russel Salic, a Filipino suspect in a botched New York City attack, earlier claimed that terrorists come to the Philippines taking advantage of the lax anti-terror laws. Salic, arrested in the Philippines last April, claimed terror laws in the country were “not strict” compared to other Western countries.
In his recent speech, the President warned the public about the lingering threat of terrorism, apart from the challenges posed by armed communist group in the country.
“There is so much terrorism and a lot of extortion going around,” Duterte said during an agribusiness assembly in Pasay City last Thursday. “So the Army is fighting two fronts there – terrorism and the NPAs – that’s keep our hands full,” he said.
Duterte remained optimistic that the conflict in Marawi will be over soon, adding the government would target the communist rebels next.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año expressed optimism that the Marawi crisis is over before the end of October.
Año said they have a timeline on when they can finish the conflict but he rather would not announce it. “Latest instruction (to military commanders)? It is to finish the Marawi crisis,” Año said. “We will finish the Marawi within this month,” he added. (Genalyn D. Kabiling and Francis T. Wakefield)