THE Philippines is not a primary target of international terror groups but government forces should remain on alert against local extremist groups in the southern Philippines, analysts said Sunday.
According to professor Bobby Tuazon, Director for Policy Studies and in-house policy analyst of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), there are no intelligence reports indicating that Islamic State (IS) extremists have heightened operations outside the Middle East and Northern Africa and, recently, in Europe.
In fact, Tuazon said, the IS groups in Syria and Iraq are now on the defensive following the retaliatory strikes launched by France, Russia, the United States and other forces.
“I can’t see any plausible tactical reason why IS groups will threaten the Philippines,” he told The Manila Times.
Although there are unverified reports that local extremist groups in southern Philippines have expressed their support to IS, officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) doubt the capability of ISIS to establish networks at the moment in the Philippines.
Professor Ramon Casiple, a political analyst, said that while there is a possibility of a spill over, jihadists will not be able to get support here because the country does not have a tradition of extremist suicides.
“There are local groups who profess allegiance to IS but these have not yet demonstrated their capability,” Casiple noted.
Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, a former military man, said that even if the country is not a primary target, security forces should monitor the movements of local extremist groups.
“We are not a primary target at the moment of international terrorists, but our security agencies must be proactive in monitoring the movements or reentry of their local affiliates,” he added.
Tuazon said security officials should give priority to homegrown security concerns like the Abu Sayyaf Group and other suspected terrorist bands.
“What is emerging as the real problem really is not the presence of extremist operations and kidnap for ransom groups per se. It is the ineptness of the government – despite massive US assistance – in putting an end to the interval security threats posed by the likes of Abu Sayyaf,” Tuazon pointed out.