• Palace on US report: PH confronting terrorism via ‘whole system’ approach

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    THE Philippine government is confronting threats posed by the international terror group Islamic State through a “whole system” approach, Malacañang said on Thursday.

    This was after the US State Department released a report showing the Philippines as among the five countries where the highest number of terror attacks was recorded in 2016.

    READ: PH among top 5 countries with most terror attacks—US State Department

    “First and foremost, we’ve been fighting terrorism in the Philippines for many years. And a month and a half into his presidency, the President had already warned the military of what he termed the ‘ISIS disease,'” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters during a press conference.

    “What we are doing is we really confronting it, engaging the situation with the whole systems ap-proach,” the Palace official added.

    Abella said the government was considering poverty as among the factors that triggered other Moro people to join the force of the enemies.

    He thus said that a Comprehensive Peace Roadmap had been approved to achieve peace and order in the country.

    “We recognize that poverty in Mindanao and the sense of hopelessness it brings spawns terrorism. It is for this reason that while we are fighting terrorism, we are also fighting poverty,” Abella said.

    “The President has already approved the Comprehensive Peace Roadmap which aims to provide peace and development by addressing the issue on the Bangsamoro,” he added.

    The US State Department reported on Wednesday that about 104 countries were victims of terror at-tacks but majority took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

    Among attacks cited by the agency were the discovery of a bomb near the US Embassy in Manila in November, the Abu Sayyaf Group’s beheading of several hostages throughout 2016, the deadly Sep-tember bombing in Davao City, clashes between state forces and communist rebels in July, and the siege of Butig town, Lanao del Sur by Islamic State-linked fighters in November.

    “The emergence of ISIS-affiliated extremist groups, persistent kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), attacks on government forces, and bombings, all indicated that domestic and international ter-rorism remained a serious problem,” the US State Department report said.

    “Philippine military and police counterterrorism efforts kept up pressure on terrorist organizations, but were unable to prevent numerous attacks against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in central and western Mindanao,” it added.

    Mindanao, the southern region of the Philippines, was placed under 60-day martial rule on May 23 af-ter Islamic State-inspired Maute group laid siege to Marawi City in an attempt to establish an enclave for Southeast Asian fighters.

    As of July 19, the government said about 421 Islamist terrorists, 99 government troops, and 45 civilians were killed in the armed conflict in Marawi City.

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