THE possibility that Southeast Asia will be next Islamic State is a challenge for the military to raise the ante against terrorists, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, was reacting to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who warned that the region was a likely target as the terrorist group was losing ground in Iraq and Syria and was looking for land bases outside of the two countries.
Cayetano and AFP Chief Eduardo Ano raised similar concerns during the regional security meeting on Thursday, a month after fighting in Marawi City erupted between government troops and the IS-linked Maute Group, led by Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute.
“He (Cayetano) is only saying that so we can increase our offensives if such threats are true,” Padilla told The Manila Times.
Ano also said that the military monitored at least 40 foreign terrorists in the Philippines, with 20 Indonesians and six Malaysians, but clarified that most of them have been killed during operations.
Padilla said the military was prepared for any kind of attack and take over to be initiated by extremist groups.
“We are prepared for any [take over]that might occur,” he said.
The military reported that foreign terrorists were aiding the Maute group in launching attacks in the Islamic city, torching several establishments and beheading civilians.