TOP anti-global terrorism and security experts from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are scheduled to meet towards the end of this month or early next to assess the extent of incursion by the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS or IS) in the Asean countries, and work out a united front to combat it.
I say it’s about time!
This came over the weekend from our sources in Jakarta and Manila.
It also came on the heels of a New Straits Times report last Friday in Kuala Lumpur that three men (two Indonesians and a Malaysian) were arrested by the Malaysian police in Sandakan, Sabah with “documents” before they could smuggle themselves into the southern Philippines.
The Police Inspector General of Sandakan (Sabah) reportedly said the three “suspected terrorists” were going to join the IS in Marawi when they were arrested.
And yet, we have our so-called human rights advocates and some senators and representatives who insist that President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao is not justified and the Maute group which has gone on a rampage of killing and destruction in Marawi City since May 23 are not threats to our national security.
It is completely insane or simple stupidity for those in our legislature and civil society who are against a strong government hand against the Maute and the other rebel groups in our country to ignore the recent moves of international terrorists in the Middle East and Europe recently.
Murderous global terrorists and violence understand only one language: extermination of human lives and violent war. Let the religious pray for divine help but government must respond with an iron hand—or fail miserably.
If these anti-strong government elements in our society would just use their resources to read the moves of these international terrorists—and they are available on the Internet and major international and regional news organizations and media every day—they would realize that:
The IS is losing in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Africa so it is natural it will look for a better area where it can succeed.
Last week, the Russians annihilated in Syria the stronghold of IS leader Abdul Bakr Bagdadhi, and the Russian and American intelligence groups are verifying if he was among those killed in the bombing.
The IS are actually losing in the Middle East and that is precisely the reason they have shifted their hub of terrorism and violence to Southeast Asia, particularly the Asean members.
The Asean is a target of the IS because this region of more than 640 million people in an area so rich in national resources and biodiversity—its food potential from agriculture, horticulture, orchards and marine products will render it a major food supplier of the world—is predicted to be the fastest growing region of the world up to 2050.
The IS, which warps the concept of jihad to be a war between Muslims and non-Muslims to recruit their young human suicide bombers, manipulates the poverty of Muslims in the Philippines and the rest of the Asean for its own goals.
President Duterte and his administration are natural targets of the IS because he is admittedly (based on the polls) getting more popular and succeeding in uniting Muslim and Christian Filipinos for economic progress—which is going to be a problem for the terrorists, that is, the Muslim extremists, as opposed to the peaceful and moderate, law-abiding Muslims in Mindanao.
The conferences of international anti-terrorists and security experts from 29 countries, and the armed forces chiefs of the Asean members last month revealed this coming shift of the IS activities in this region—and it really started last Mayy 23 in Marawi City.
In the face of all these, one pertinent question can be asked of our legislators and members of our civil society who are affluent enough: why do they not use their resources to provide our people with accurate, current and vetted information in this age of information technology?
Use the new information and communication technologies—which actually are real tools for economic progress in any county or region whose people are willing to use these positively instead of promoting personal and transactional politics for personal or exclusive corporate gains and greed—for national inclusive growth.
Imagine if the impoverished small individual farmers in the rural areas can be organized into a cooperative and to use the mobile phones and the telecommunications infrastructure to spread production and market information.
That will help them improve their livelihood in a couple of years’ time—given at least eight months of education and information campaign on them—to help them understand and convince them of the wisdom to adapt new technologies for production and productivity.
Most of our rural folk often argue against adapting new technologies: “This is what my grandparents and parents taught me. This has been tried and tested, it works. I don’t understand the benefits of this new ways you are telling me, so why should I follow you?”
If you analyze it, it is more of a communication problem. The learned man who means well and wants to share the useful scientific information and technologies with the simple and less educated farmer or fisherfolk in the rural and coastal areas, cannot explain it in simple language that the rural dweller can understand and accept. That is a generational challenge/problem.
More on the solution in the next columns.
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