This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mindanao, Philippines, Islamist Insurrection

"A further extension of the implementation of martial law ... will help quell completely and put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent the same from escalating to other parts of the country."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

"The reason we live under a red alert is that the Maute can look like civilians. We worry that they may come here [Iligan City]. We fear that they are already among our population."
"That is why we support martial law. We know that Duterte does this for our own safety."
Daryl Lugatiman, clothing designer, Philippines

"We call the Maute terrorists because of the destruction they have caused in our place [Marawi, Mindanao]. They claim they are jihadists and are suddenly calling themselves Islamic State, but that is branding. They do not even know what jihad is."
"What they really are is extremists. What they are doing is un-Islamic. They have taken Islamic principles and misinterpreted them."
Nassib Sambaco, former Marawi councillor

"[The Maute were] inspired by ISIL central, ideologically and tactically."
"[However], the group built] their narratives based in a local context of perceived or real government discrimination, a slow-moving peace process and the hard approach taken by President Duterte."
Ahmad Elmuhammady, Islam International University, Malaysia

"Is there not an alternative to air strikes? They have become an effective tool for the Maute to recruit in reaction]."
"The Maute are like a bacteria. They exist in parts of the body that are sensitive. But they are only one percent of the population, if it is even that high. This must be stopped but in the right way."
"[The people of Marawi do not support extremism], but what happens in Iraq and Syria means that our hearts and minds can be easily manipulated."
"This happens because of globalization. It is so easy now to exchange ideas and information. Young people and even some older people here can see extremist videos that were made in the Middle East. They like these videos because they believe that they tell them about Islam. The truth is that this is not Islam at all."
Abdullah Ahmad-Ali, lawyer, Marawi, Mindanao

"There was shooting and burning everywhere, the main campus of the University of Mindanao was badly damaged and the Maute were warning people to leave or they might die."
Marjana Sagusura, student, Marawi

"To see the planes flying is good. There has to be bombing because that is the terrorists' stronghold."
"I am not angry with Muslims, but I wonder why they make trouble. We must be vigilant to keep our own city [Iligan City] peaceful and safe."
Ricardo Naboyng, duty guard
In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte this week will receive the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ recommendation on whether military rule in Mindanao must be prolonged. AP/Bullit Marquez

If jihad is not Islam, then it would be most instructive to the world at large to know what Islam is. Muslims claim it to be a religion of peace. The Koran and the Hadiths have the duty of believers writ  large in their obligation to engage in jihad, one of the vital pillars of Islam. The 'extremists' are simply exercising their obligation as believers to follow the instructions of the Koran. To state ad infinitum from various points of the globe from among the ummah that this is not Islam is beyond disingenuous.

The Christians living in Iligan believe that the people of Marawi, Philippine Muslims, deserve what is happening to their city for their tacit complicity in support of the Islamist groups, the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State. Of the 100-million population of the various islands that comprise the Philippines, 80-million are devout Roman Catholics. They are willing to live with the Muslims in their midst, but not, obviously, when the 'extremists' among them are violently abusive, threatening stability and causing death and destruction.

It is a small percentage of the ten-million Muslim Filipinos admittedly, that are wreaking this damage to the larger community of the Philippines by attacking villages and cities to claim them for Islam, and by kidnapping foreigners, holding them for ransom, and when none is forthcoming, placing the Philippines in international news headlines by beheading the captives. The Islamist opposition to the central command of the federal government is not viewed kindly by its president, a man who never hesitates to employ violence when he is opposed.

The martial law imposed when the Maute clan and their allies, foreign fighters and Abu Sayyaf invaded Marawi in a five-month conflict remains in place despite the military having brought order and control to Mindanao killing the elite of the militant terrorists. Because the threats yet continue martial law has been extended through the coming year. Fears that the deadly conflict from Muslim Marawi could spread to Christian Iligan City ensures that support for Muslims is muted.
In this June 2, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte visits the 102nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. PCOO/Released

Even so, in Iligan City thousands of Philippine troops pass one another, the battle-weary ones passing in the opposite direction of the fresh troops heading toward the fight as Vietnam-era helicopters whomp overhead and PA-50 warplanes carrying rockets and bombs stream forward to the southern battle zone. In the besieged city of Marawi, police and army checkpoints create a gauntlet of restricted passage. In the last general election that elevated Duterte to the presidency, Marawi voted for Duterte.

In most of Mindanao the man remains popular and trusted to put down these violent insurrections, yet his air strike war on Marawi has understandably undercut his support from Muslims. Central Marawi is destroyed thanks to the air bombing campaign. In the ruins of Marawi, the Maute/AbuSayyaf/Islamic State fighters were able to hold out by hiding and fighting in its ruins even while vastly outnumbered and outgunned by Philippine forces.

A situation that "lifted the prestige of the Philippine fighters in the eyes of ISIS central [and] has inspired young extremists from around the region to want to join [them]", wrote the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. Only a strong government determination to rebuild the destroyed city will give Filipino Muslims in Mindanao the comfort to believe the government views their needs as equal to those of the Christian population.

"I don't like Muslims because they make trouble for Christians by bombing and ambushing them. Some of them are traitors who hate Christians. My feelings are so strong that I can't really talk about them, although I know that some Muslims aren't bad", stated Pentecostal Merlinda Halisbas, as she mulled the future of the country and her president's challenge once the restoration of peace has been accomplished.

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