ARMED FORCES chief General Eduardo Ano has announced a “new tact” being implemented by the military and perhaps the police in their serious effort to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction to crush the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Mindanao.
Ano said they are neutralizing the leaders of the bandits, believing that by killing or arresting the big fish, one of the fiercest armed bands in the South would also perish.
This plan may be effective as part of tactics, one that could serve the purpose in a short period of engagement with the enemy.
In the long run, however, we entertain serious doubts on whether the elimination of leaders would lead to a permanent solution to the terror and violence in Southern Philippines.
Commanders, spokesmen, and cadres of these religion-based armed men who like to call themselves jihadists have surfaced, excelled in their notoriety and made quite a splash in media, then were either killed, hibernated, neutralized and forgotten.
Cut the head and the body will rear another head to guide the armed resistance, to chart another course for the way of the gun.
Even as the AFP chief of staff and the Philippine National Police chief were making announcements on how to inflict the final solution to the Muslim extremists, reports of an even broader umbrella organization of these enemies of the state were received by media.
Called Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik (DIWM), the group is said to replace Ansar Khilafa Philippines, whose leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid was killed last Jan. 5.
In fine, new names of various groups have been reported even as the older groups are still active, such as the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Maute group, the AKP, and several splinter factions of the MILF.
Such situation belies the soundness of the announced new tact in this fight by the government.
Police intelligence sources said the DIWM’s ultimate objective is to be recognized by the daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) as its representative fighting institution in the Philippines.
There are indications that this is nearer the truth, for the Muslim extremists have upped the ante, launching bombing attacks on such diverse targets as Davao City, Leyte, and North Cotabato. There were even Sudanese fighters killed during encounters with soldiers in Sarangani province.
President Duterte is correct in issuing orders for extermination, and the military/police establishments are duty-bound to comply with the best methods they can muster.