Insurgencies make PH vulnerable to terrorists: analyst

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2018 01:54 PM | Updated as of Dec 21 2018 02:25 PM

This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila. Noel Celis, AFP/File

MANILA- Rebellion in the Philippines makes the country vulnerable to terrorism, a security analyst said Friday.

Insurgencies led by Moro and communist groups makes the country an attractive target for terrorists, Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research told ANC.

"We are vulnerable because we have two active insurgencies--the insurgency coming from the Moro front and the insurgency coming from the communist front," he said.

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The Philippines was recently listed as one of the "emerging hotspots of terrorism" in the world after it ranked 10th in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

The index takes into account the number of terrorist incidents in the country, the number of deaths from these incidents, and the scale of their physical and psychological effects. 

Manila is the sole Southeast Asian nation included in the top 10, with the index noting that the main driver of terrorist activity was "exacerbated tensions between splinter terror groups and national governments."

Among the worst attacks listed by the index was the siege of Marawi City by the ISIS-Maute Group in 2017, which led to a 5-month ground war with government forces. 

Due to the attack, the southernmost part of the Philippines has been placed under military rule until the end of 2019.

Banlaoi said while martial law addresses the military aspect of terrorism, the government has to "be fast and smarter" in finding ways to combat the spread of terrorist ideologies.

"They (the government) have to find out innovative ways to deal with them (terrorists) because these terrorist groups do not stop finding ways to build their capabilities," he said, noting that local terrorist groups in the country are "aligned" with foreign ones.

While local terrorists in the country are decreasing in number, Banlaoi warned that innovations allow them to still mount big attacks.

Banlaoi said the government should move quickly to address factors that push some people to join terrorist groups.

"The more you delay that (development), the more you provide time for terrorist groups to regroup, recruit and plan for future terrorist attacks," he said.