TRY AS HARD AS they can not to show any signs of fear amid terrorism stories, Boholanos fell to the human frailty of “fear of the unknown and violence” as terrorism may be succeeding where we want them to fail.
Sowing uneasy fear among the people, that is.
The Boholano community vigilance and the military’s tough and focused stance brought death to 12 Abu Sayyaf terrorists this summer here. Washington surveillance had earlier issued travel warnings for Bohol while the ASEAN powers were here for a pow-wow.
They knew what we later learned. The ASG assimilated among the Muslim community in some provincial towns but were armed to the teeth with guns, ammunitions, and bomb paraphernalia. This while the ASEAN was talking integration here.
The timing is too much of a coincidence even for a grade schooler.
Now Mindanao, a neighborly region is under Martial Law after the terror group Maute took over Marawi City and installed the black ISIS flags in the city.
As of Saturday night, 173 have been reportedly killed: about 100 terrorists, 32 military men and the rest assumed to be civilians.
There are still 250 rebels holding the fort in Marawi City -presumably from a total of 500 and are still a force reckon with.
Before the Boholanos surveyed by sister radio station dyRD’s “Inyong Alagad” could collectively chorus their anguished voices for the President to swiftly end the Marawi siege and lift Martial Law in Mindanao, a plush resort gambling casino Resort Worlds in Manila was terrorized by a gunman carrying gasoline and an armalite.
About 38 have died in RW including the terror man who allegedly burned and shot himself in the ensuing raid.
While many authorities have largely declared the violent RW scene as a mere robbery case and not a terrorist gambit, Speaker Sonny Alvarez and former National Peace and Order Council chief (under the FVR administration ) Raffy Alunan are inclined to think it is a terrorist act.
Regardless, three nations like the USA, UK and Australia have already issued clear travel advisory generally against Philippine travel. The negative impact these can have on tourism, investment business and GDP growth is almost incalculable
For instance, during the Marawi -Mindanao crisis alone, Davao City lost P 20-M in potential tourism business. What about the rest of the country?
The ISIS communique already “lauded the lone wolf soldiers” who carried out the RW assault, leading to speculation that more than one conspirator was involved.
The chief suspect appeared more suicidal than stealthy -and must have known there was little value in stolen “casino chips.” Besides, “terror” is defined in wider perspective as per the International Crisis Group Sydney Jones who says:
“It is a tactic, not an end by itself, involving a deliberate effort to create a sense of fear in a particular target population to achieve a political objective. “
“It is usually carried out not by a mass group but a handful of people with the element of surprise and stealth. It is usually done in places where there is heavy traffic of men with many foreigners.”
The bombing during the Boston Marathon in the USA, the UK Ariana Grande Concert and the RW Incident seem to have the same “hallmarks” of terrorism.
Whether government acknowledges the RW Incident as an act of terrorism or not at this point is of no moment. The damage and the perception prevail over any other verbal assertion from anywhere.
Eighty percent of the radio respondents were frighteningly wary as to where the next ISIS terror will spring up next. Even as they urged the commander-in-chief to pulverize the ISIS threat in Mindanao ASAP.
Not only that, they encourage the government to instead to take the offensive versus the terror groups and not just passively wait to counter a new attack somewhere.
It is easier said than done. though. In the past – it was easier fro the late Gen Angie Reyes to bomb to smithereens the Camp Abubakar of the Muslims in Cotabato because they were contained in one area in the early 2000s under the instruction of then President Erap Estrada.
Today the ISIS attempted to hit Bohol, then swiftly invaded Marawi City and possibly executed the Manila-based RW Incident. Aside from that- remember the bomb explosion in Davao that killed 13 people? And the Quiapo bombing explosions?
Now, tell us – is it easy to capture this lean and mean- a slippery and mobile group who- like a shadowy phantom – attacks at any and all points? That is what makes terrorism such a fearful enemy to hack.
The United States is the world’s leading global fighter against terrorism. Its leadership in the Coalition to numb the feet of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has led to the new control of heretofore occupied ISIS territories.
Will Uncle Sam come to the rescue of the Philippines amid its new terror threats.? Or are the two countries so now estranged that Uncle Sam -though not encouraging terrorism – will just fold its arms and wait for an “errant ally” to disintegrate? We sincerely hope not.
Because as early as December 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte had already warned of a new impending Caliphate revolving around the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Very little did anyone anticipate ,however, that a 51-year-old baby-faced assassin from the Philippines and a former ASG head in Isnilon Hapilon will be made ISIS Emir of Southeast Asia and the first battleground for supremacy was chosen to be in the heart of Mindanao in Marawi City.
Now, the huge Gun – Barrel of Terror is now poked directly into the eyes of the Philippines -straight to the two eyeballs.
We have no choice but to return fire with fire, bad intentions with the same. It is, of course, unfortunate, for this to happen in the midst of a government’s massive anti-drug war, a faltering peace talks with the Reds and an unclear settlement with the Muslim separatists.
It has become a king-sized trouble that will bedevil any president.
In the local level, we can only help by protecting our own. Vigilance and constant consultation at the barangay levels. Tightening security at the porous entry points of the province.
Double the security of public and populated places and more police visibility everywhere. Bohol’s recent success story versus the ASG here proves it can be done.
Rise up, once more, Sons of Dagohoy!
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(Erratum: In the Chronicle Editorial last Wednesday – the name of CAMI officer Reina Rose Enriquez- Suarez was inadvertently printed as Reina Rosello Suarez. Our apologies- Editor).