Perhaps these days nothing worries President Rodrigo Duterte more than the troubling possibility that the Marawi City siege is merely the start of a longer strategic campaign by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – and their IS inspired followers and allies to extend and establish their influence in the South East Asian Region, given the tremendous set-backs that their military has suffered elsewhere in the Middle East.
This is maybe the deeper reason why even as the President has announced that the Marawi siege is finally coming to an end there will be no cause for likely celebration or shouts of victory considering the number of Filipino lives sacrificed and lost, as well as property damaged, in order to regain peace in that part of the country.
There is in fact the looming possibility that the President and his supporters in Congress will extend Martial Law in Mindanao if only to prevent any further repeat of the Marawi tragedy and to insure that no other territory of the Philippines will be invaded anew by IS inspired groups such as the Maute muslim radicals and the bandit group Abu Sayaff.
Nonetheless, going by the way the ISIS and their cohorts have been planning and carrying out their tactics and strategies, not only to create and establish new fronts for their so called caliphate, but also to create diversions to in order to reduce pressure being brought against their radical movement, it can only be surmised that they have already carefully studied the resulting situation in Marawi City and whether this can be replicated elsewhere in the South East Asia region, especially in those asean countries where there are muslim populations that can be made subject of their radicalization.
But closer to home, the President may have been accurate in observing that other areas in Mindanao are susceptible to a Maute and Abu Sayaff like infiltration and invasion and that only the imposition of Martial Law and an ever vigilant populace will prevent the likelihood of any similar Marawi incident from ever happening again in Mindanao.
As we recall the imposition of Martial Law in September 21, 1972 by then former President Ferdinand Marcos and even as Mindanao continues to be under the shadow of Martial Law declared by President Duterte it behooves for the Filipino people to realize and understand that such impositions are made in order to prevent perceived enemies of the State from gaining any momentum or foothold in the country. For then former President Marcos it was the communists and the NPAs while for President Duterte it is fanatical rebel muslim groups that have been radicalized and inspired by the ISIS.
President Duterte, like it or not, will surely have his hands full in trying to contain and prevent IS inspired radical groups in sowing further trouble in Mindanao and we can only hope that he will not be distracted by other issues that might hamper and distract his focus towards ending the problems brought about by these radical muslim groups who continue to terrorize people in Mindanao.