Could the Bangsamoro be haven for ISIS in the future?


I realize I could be labeled an alarmist by that question, but for the sake of our nation’s future we have to confront it, and answer it as objectively as possible.

If Congress, because of its P21 billion pork barrel this year, doesn’t care that the planned Bangsamoro bill could dismember the country, I do hope they’d care if the existence of such a state created a haven for the global jihadist war.

Maybe, maybe not. But what precautions are we, as a nation, taking that the Congress isn’t?

 Filipinos were first? Left,  from a 15-minute video posted in 2012 showing one of seven hostages beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.  Right, a video ISIS fighter decapitating a captured Syrian soldier last month.

Filipinos were first? Left, from a 15-minute video posted in 2012 showing one of seven hostages beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf. Right, a video of an ISIS fighter decapitating a captured Syrian soldier last month.

This is especially so as the jihadist organization – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – has quite suddenly become a powerful force, leaving a trail of blood and decapitations in that part of the Middle East. (ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, refers to that region consisting of Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of southern Turkey).

The rise of ISIS is yet another indication that the invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies—to avenge the 9/11 attack on New York by Osama bin Laden—has become a monumental disaster for the world. Indeed, terrorist Osama bin Laden would have been ecstatic that his 9/11 terrorist attack has been successful in its strategic aim: To provoke the US into a war against two Muslim nations so that it would be seen as a war against Islam as a religion and that  around the world would seek martyrdom in a jihad against the West.

As an editorial on the website of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) put it: “The ISIS is overflowing with volunteers from all over the world, including those from the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.”

Already, reports of Muslim migrants or second-generation migrants in the UK and Australia joining the ISIS emphasize how that organization has attracted Muslim militants even in rich countries. It probably now dwarfs the Muslim International Brigade that joined the Afghans against the Soviets in the 1990s.

A photo of a white boy not yet in his teens, son of an Australian ISIS fighter, shows him gleefully holding the decapitated head of a Syrian government soldier.  A British female medical student is seen in a similar gory pose. And, of course, there are those videos of a hooded ISIS fighter with a British accent sawing off with his knife the necks of an American and a British captive in the act of beheading them.

All these have seared the public mind with what I was told just a few years back, the emerging horror story of the 21st century: The US’ Iraq invasion and later Islamic rebels’ victories against strongmen in the Middle East have unleashed an Islamic jihad against the West never before seen.

That radical Muslims in the country—of the same sect, Sunni, as the ISIS militants— have always had international connections is without a doubt. Both the Moro National Liberation Front and its break-away group the MILF would have been defeated decades ago if it had not been aided, financially and organizationally by Malaysia. This Asian neighbor had the most brilliant strategy predicting it would be a Muslim insurgency in Mindanao that would make the Philippines give up—as it has de facto done —its claim on Sabah.

With this socialist bent that communist leader Jose Ma. Sison succeeded to some extent to implant in him, MNLF chair Misuari received substantial support from Libyan “Islamic-socialism” leader Muammar Ghaddafi.

The late MILF chairman Hashim Salamat on the other hand established close links with his schoolmates, the Islamic Al-Azhar in Egypt, some of whom, especially after 9/11, became jihadist ideologues. Quite ironically, Muslims going to the Middle East as OFWs reportedly have even been targets of jihadist brainwashing by terrorist groups there.

I was the first journalist to visit, in 1996, the MILF’s headquarters called camp Abubakr in Maguindanao. Staying there a few days, several MILF soldiers regaled me with their war exploits in the mountains of a country where at night, as they narrated,  “you can see your pee freeze as it falls on the ground” — Afghanistan.  MILF fighters were sent in batches to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets in the 1980s in a Muslim international brigade—of which, of course, the most prominent, or notorious member, turned out to be Osama bin Laden.

Veterans of the Afghanistan war, in fact, have created an elite group in the MILF, many of whom command its battalions. Even as the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao —Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi, which will also fall within the Bangsamoro territory—had a Manila-controlled police force and had several armed forces camps, as well as an entire army division, it had become, especially Sulu, the safe haven of jihadists in the past two decades.

In the 1990s to early 2000, it was the Abu-Sayyaf group, also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, that sowed terror in Mindanao.  It wasn’t ISIS that was the first to video beheadings as an instrument of terror. It was the Abu-Sayyaf that sent similar videos of decapitations of marines to the media in 2000.  Even last year, the Abu Sayyaf posted a gruesome 15-minute video of their seven civilian hostages being decapitated as they shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Cadres and clerics of the region-wide Jamaiya Islamiya, alleged to be directly linked to the Al-Qaeda, had been roaming in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur as religious preachers.

The Jemaah Islamiah intends to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Southeast Asia, just as the ISIS wants to set up such a state in Iraq and the Levant.  Breakaway groups from the MNLF and the MILF, according to military sources, have in the past several years touched base with Middle Eastern jihadist groups, and have received funding from them. In fact, the Abu Sayyaf, now headed by Isnilo Hapilon and an unidentified leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a break-way group from the MILF have recently posted videos on the internet declaring their  allegiance to the ISIS.

Former President Fidel Ramos, a former military man with extensive intelligence contacts here and abroad, had reported: “At least a hundred of our young Filipino-Muslims have infiltrated Iraq (and joined ISIS) where they get training and they can launch jihad when they come back to the Philippines.”

There were news reports that the MILF “vowed to stamp out the ISIS ‘virus’ if it spreads to the Philippines.”  It turns out that that report was drawn solely from an editorial written by “The Editorial Desk” in the MILF’s website.

It wasn’t even a condemnation of ISIS atrocities: “The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS or even by its own members.” The article even had more words condemning “the evil machinations of Western Countries,” which, it hinted inevitably, resulted in the creation of an ISIS.

The article even noted:  So far neither MILF chairman Ibrahim Murad nor the Vice Chairman, Ghazali Jaafar, has condemned the ISIS, not even its atrocities. But even if they do, our experience shows that they and others like them have absolutely no control over other Islamic groups.

Both the MNLF and the MILF had been condemning the Abu Sayaff, and other Islamic groups, yet the military had been complaining that when pursued, these groups simply go to the MNLF or MILF territories.

If Islamic terrorists have managed to find safe havens in the ARMM, what more in the proposed Bangsamoro, as its territory would be entirely under the control of its own police, under the command of its chief executive, the Chief Minister.

Article XI of the bill for the Bangsamoro Basic Law specifies that “the Bangsamoro Government, through the Bangsamoro Police, shall have primary responsibility over public order and safety within the Bangsamoro territory. (emphasis mine)”

That even the Republic’s armed forces will have no business in the Bangsamoro is implied in that article’s section 16, which provides that the “Chief Minister may request the President to call upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines” to engage in operations in its territory.

“May request.” If he doesn’t, the armed forces cannot enter the Bangsamoro territory.

Have our negotiators Teresita Deles and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer even heard of ISIS?


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  1. It looks like the terrorists have “won” here in the Philippines as the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement is just a few words shy of being labeled as a “secessionist state” considering that they have their own laws and police force and that the AFP must leave the area and can only be allowed inside if the head of the Bangsamoro entity “requests” for the AFP to intervene.

  2. >>> let the other regions in the Philippines form, create and established their own State too. Formulate Basic Law, design own Flag and State Anthemn song, State Police and Fire Brigade, etc. Because this the direction of this lousy and paralytic brained -headed Philippine President BS Cojuangco-Aquino3rd’s “…Straight Path”.
    Straight path means straight direction to DISMEMBERMENT OF THE NATION.

    This Cojuangco-Aquino is really has A COLLABORATOR INHERITANCE BLOOD AND MENTALLITY since the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

  3. Thank you Mr. Tiglao.I hope our legislators will read your column and stir their patriotism over their thirst for pork barrel and DAP.

  4. Why don’t they see the handwriting on the wall? What more proof does BS Aquino III want to stop the stupidity of is actions?

  5. Ambassador Tiglao: Most definitely you are not an alarmist, but a realist. With BBL providing for Shariah and Sunna as the basis for governance in the Bangsamoro, it follows that the political entity that will be established is Islamist Bangsamoro. What Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait, to name just a few, have closely guarded to the extent of shedding blood by hundreds of their citizens, the Philippine government is giving it to Islamists on a silver platter. In these Middle Eastern countries I mentioned, the continuing struggle between the secular governments and the Islamist Jihadists is the one involving the strident call by the latter to amend their respective constitutions to make Shariah the basis for legislation instead of the present construction making Shariah a source of legislation. The BBL , once approved in a plebiscite, automatically establishes an Islamist entity over the area covered by the Bangsamoro. In so doing, the Philippines follows Indonesia’s Aceh footsteps.
    Beheading as a tool of warfare is nothing new for Muslims. One will recall that Prophet Muhammad himself ordered the decapitation of the leaders of the Quraysh tribe – despite the fact that he belonged to the same tribe- when he entered Mecca and put the severed heads on stakes along the walls of the city. Among the Shiites, Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet was decapitated in Iraq by his enemies and his head brought to Syria, the then seat of the governing Sunni Caliphate. This horrible bodily mutilation, purportedly haram in the Quran, marked Hussein’s martyrdom and Ashura’s holiest feast.

  6. It is a possible scenario and should have at least a planned contingency measure.
    But our dear leaders are known to be “pabaya”, taking action only when the problem is already big.

  7. Melchor Vergara on

    another way to look at it is if the MILF decide to be friendly, or outright join ISIS as a retaliatory move if congress, and the Supreme Court, rejects this unconstitutional BBL proposal…….

  8. The solution would be to refuse entry to any citizen of any country that would for leave for any country that the ISIS have a foothold. Don’t allow them back to the country. This might give them second thoughts. Jail those suspected of having ISIS affiliations.Forget politacal correctness, just get rid of them. We are a Christian country and we are the majority. But first get rid of of Benigno Deles and Miriam they are two faced anyhow.

  9. Mr. Tiglao you are not an alarmist but merely pointing out an obvious conclusion. The terrorist won the fight with the Government and have dictated the surrender terms in the form of a BBL. They take complete control of the land they occupy. They can do anything they wish to do.

    • Be very very careful in what you say. Never impute such irresponsible talk and show such manner by claiming the terrorists succeeded here via the BBL. You have no idea what that might cause in our very own lives and our country as a whole. That kind of behavior has already caused so much pain and infighting among our brother Muslims and Christians alike. Do not insist on that, Never, man, never. If you must attack how P-Noy run the affairs of government, by all means do so. But never resort again to what you just did.

  10. Andres R. Samson on

    Deles and Coronel – are pawns of the Tenant for the dismemberment of the nation. Yes, the hatred and enmity that have been sown in Mindanao to start the secessionist/rebellion movement have outgrown the most cruel dimensions of the conflict. The political overlords from either side of the conflict raked in the money, while people, militants, and soldiers paid with their lives and sufferings. I personally experienced the anguish, hunger, pain and losses during a 7 year period of rotating deployment in Mindanao.

  11. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Just too bad that almost all of the members of Congress have one thing in mind- MONEY. With the executive having that and led by A BAD man who from all indications claim to be a masterful budgeting specialist, who would care about the state of the Philippine wherever it goes. They can fly off easily with the money they get from P-Noy. No one seems to have a heart for the country in both houses of Chamber. All they know is themselves. The only remaining thing to do is pray. God bless the Philippines.

  12. Apparently not , Mr Tiglao, those two negotiators must not have heard of ISIS and failed to see the end ramification of BBL to the future of our country.It is appalling how they can disregard the many red flags (beheading ) that has been happening and Islamic State worldwide campaign to eliminate Christians existence.

  13. Naku Kuya Ramon, pakibatukan nga yan si Miriam para tigilan na ang kanyang “sleeping with the enemy”. But anyway, that Bangsamoro Adventure will surely die in the hands of the Supreme Court. At least, some people are receiving largesse for just humoring the boy who is trying to earn respect with his Bangsamoro Games. Imagine the DAP funds flowing into congressional hands with just their promises that they will “pass” it into law. I wonder if they would even read it. Alam mo naman dyan sa tongress, uso pa rin ang “pare, pirmahan mo na ito at may palaman yan”.

  14. Anything could happen regarding our own Muslim problems. The government unfortunately did not display any pragmatism in choosing a particular group of Mindanao and Jolo Muslims and putting the other groups in the back-burner. We do not want an ISIS type of jihad in the Philippines but it may happen because of irresponsible behavior of our leaders. Maybe the Pilipinos should understand that like Christians, the Muslims are also divided, with many different and conflicting beliefs like the Sunni’s, the Kurds, the Shiiti’s and other smaller sects. Just like Christians, we have a Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and more than 30,000 different Protestant denominations who does not agree on even small things in faith. We are just thankful that our neighbor, Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in population are the moderate sect otherwise, we are in a more deep trouble than what we anticipate. Of course let us not welcome this development and pray it does not happen.

  15. aresyo goodfriend on

    And that is the grave concern of many filipinos. If the government was not able to settle the conflict with the MILF & MNLF, how much more if it gives the Bangsamoro a greater autonomy? What is there in the law to safeguard Philipinnes against insurrection and future ISIS converst? God forbids that Bangsamoro region will be a haven for ISIS recruit, training and planning.