The Supreme Court cannot stop an extension of Martial Law in Mindanao beyond 60 days

Wednesday June 07, 2017 ()

Marawi check point

"Martial law only addresses the military aspect of terrorist threats in Mindanao," says security expert Dr. Rommel Banlaoi. "Terrorism in the Philippines has many underlying conditions that a military action alone cannot address."

Dr. Banlaoi is chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research. He is also director of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies.

These underlying conditions, Banlaoi relates, include "the historical injustice committed against Muslims in Mindanao, the relative deprivation of many people there, and their continued marginalization due to social, religious and cultural factors, among others."

The Supreme Court cannot stop an extension of Martial Law in Mindanao beyond 60 days

Thus, expect martial law in Mindanao, which began on May 23, can last more than the promised 60 days under Presidential Proclamation 216. And I think even the Supreme Court cannot stop an extension of the emergency rule beyond 60 days.

President Duterte, the commander-in-chief, is right: Only the police and the armed forces can say whether it is okay to lift or extend martial law. And considering how spotty the military's performance has been in containing the Maute rebellion and how inept the Philippine National Police was in subduing a deranged gambler who went berserk at Resorts World Manila last Friday, not even the military can say for sure just when to lift martial law.

The London police took only eight minutes to kill three terrorists in an open-air arena. The PNP took more than four hours to corner the RW gunman and that was because the suspect killed and burned himself, without need for the police to engage him in a gunfight in an enclosed, controlled area.

Banlaoi expalins:

"Addressing the underlying conditions requires political actions that can be addressed through a negotiated political settlement and not through military armaments."

Thus, beyond martial law, the Philippine government has to sustain the Mindanao peace process to solve the non-military aspect of the Mindanao problem.

The Maute Group's decisive attempt on May 23 to place Marawi City under its control on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria prompted the Philippine government to take this so-called "Marcosian" measure.

Duterte himself admitted that ISIS has established strong presence in Mindanao to create an Islamic State aligned to ISIS.

Martial law is a draconian measure to respond to the draconian threat of ISIS in the Philippines.

ISIS is encouraging all supporters worldwide to come to the Philippines to perform jihad.

Warns Banlaoi:

"Without a strong measure like martial law, there is a high risk for the Philippines to fall under ISIS terror threats as indicated in various ISIS propaganda materials in social media stating: 'For those who cannot move to the land of Syria, join the Mujahideen in the Philippines. If you cannot do that, send your sons to the land of jihad in the Philippines. And if you cannot send your sons, then send your money to support the Mujahideen'."

Banlaoi traces the genesis of the Maute Group.

Maute is a Lanao del Sur–based terrorist group in Mindanao that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Its members are led by the prominent Maute family of Butig, Lanao del Sur where the group established its political base and military training camps.

The Philippine military discovered the existence of this group in July 2012 in the aftermath of a raid in Butig to pursue an Indonesian national, Sanusi, who was propagating ISIS ideology in Mindanao.

Sanusi, who posed as a student in Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi using the name Mansor Pamaloy, was eventually killed in Marawi City in November 2012.

In the aftermath of Sanusi's death, the Philippine government discovered in Butig various improvised explosive devices, propaganda materials and black flags associated with ISIS.

In September 2014, the Maute family performed a bay'ah or pledge of allegiance to ISIS and announced the establishment of the Daulah Islamiyyah Fi Ranao or the Islamic State of Lanao.

The Maute family formed two armed groups called: Khilafah sa Jabal Uhod (Soldiers of Islam in Mouth Uhod) and Khilafah sa Ranao (Soldiers of Islam in Lanao) headed by the Maute brothers: Omarkayam Maute and Abdullah Maute. Yesterday, the military expressed the belief they have killed one of the two brothers during an aerial bombing in Marawi. In Davao City yesterday morning, their ailing father, Cayamora M. Maute, was arrested at a checkpoint, together with a daughter, plus a huge cash stash.

In February 2016, the Maute Group demonstrated its first barbaric act on behalf of the ISIS when it beheaded a Philippine army officer in Butig. In April 2016, the Maute Group beheaded two Christian workers on behalf of the ISIS.

The Maute Group's most notorious act of terror was the bombing of Davao City on Sept. 2, 2016 that claimed the lives of at least 14 victims and injury of at least 70 others.

By this time, the Maute Group has organized almost 400 armed followers mostly young people trained in its military camps in Butig. The Khilafah Islammiyah Mindanao (KIM) founded by Humam Abdul Najid formally joined the Maute Group.

The Maute Group's growing military strength and political influence prompted the Philippine government to launch military offensives against them in November 2016 after the Maute Group's attempt to control Butig town by raising the flag of ISIS in the municipal hall.

In was during the these military offensives when the Philippine government discovered the presence of Isnilon Hapilon in Butig fighting side by side with the Maute Group.

Isnilon Hapilon is one of the original founders of the Abu Sayyaf Group originally led by Abdurajak Janjalani. He is better known as the ASG Commander in Basilan.

In June 2014, Hapilon pledged allegiance to ISIS making his faction of the ASG in Basilan as part of the ISIS caliphate.

In January 2016, he formed the Dahwatul Islamiyyah Wilayatul Mashriq (DIWM) as an umbrella organization of ISIS followers in the Philippines.

ISIS regards the DIWM as the Islamic State East Asia Division composed initially of the ASG, Anshar Khalifa Philippines (AKP), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other local and foreign terrorist personalities.

Hapilon went to Butig to integrate the Maute Group in the DIWM in order to establish the Dawlah Islamiyah Mindanao.

On May 23, military tried to arrest Hapilon in Marawi. They failed and that started the war that has gone on for two weeks.

Banlaoi says Hapilon was actually in Marawi City to solidify the formation of Dawlah Islamiyah Mindanao with the Maute Group as its main fighting force together with other armed groups in Mindanao that have pledged allegiance to ISIS like the ASG, AKP, BIFF, and KIM.

Foreign terrorist personalities from Indonesia Malaysia, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and others joined the fight against government forces. On the same day of the start of the fighting, ISIS in its Amaq News Agency announced that those fighting government forces in Marawi City were Islamic State (IS) soldiers. ISIS has intention of establishing a territory in Marawi City.


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