THE military said Wednesday it had monitored 48 foreign terrorists allegedly involved in training local recruits in Mindanao, which is under martial law.
Major General Fernando Trinidad, Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence, justified the year-long extension of martial law in the south by saying the situation there had become complicated with the “influx of foreign terrorist fighters capitalizing on the porous maritime boundaries in the southern Philippines in the guise of tourists and businessmen.”
He said the military had monitored the entry of terrorists from Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.
While the Marawi siege had ended, Trinidad said, the rebels were still able to regroup by recruiting some 400 men who had received training on marksmanship, urban warfare and use of improvised explosive devices from foreign terrorists.
“Regional leadership may remain in the southern Philippines for the establishment of a wilayat [ISIS caliphate] in Southeast Asia since DAESH still views the Philippines as a prospective area of operation in the region. Thus, senior leaders from Syria, Malaysia and Indonesia may return to assume the leadership of Daulah Islamiyah,” Trinidad said.
“Daulah Islamiyah members will attempt to replicate the siege of Marawi in other areas in Mindanao to achieve their goal of establishing a wilayat. They could also look for opportunities to conduct bombings particularly in the urban areas not only in Mindanao but even in Metro Manila to project their relevance and to avenge the death of their colleagues.”
Trinidad said the remnants of terrorist groups still had the capability to recruit members and sow terror again.
“Further, other DAESH-inspired and like-minded rebel groups remain capable of staging similar atrocities against vulnerable targets in Mindanao including the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Davao, General Santos, Iligan and Zamboanga,” Trinidad said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman opposed the military’s presentation, saying it should have been done before the joint session of Congress before the extension was approved.
The other petitioners did not object while Solicitor General Jose Calida said Lagman was absent when the presentation was made in Congress.
Lagman denied Calida’s claim.
“I was present the whole time during the joint session of the Congress and there was no power-point presentation made by the military,” he said.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno then allowed Trinidad to deliver his presentation and ordered Calida to file a manifestation indicating when the military made the presentation in Congress.