Well, it seems we have our own problems with affiliates of ISIS. A known supposed Islamic group in the South, bandits and murderers the lot of them, have invaded a town, killed and mutilated civilians, and seemingly raised the ISIS flag over the local government buildings

Muslims are but a small percentage of the Filipino population, but past governments gave autonomy to large areas of the South under the control of powerful clans in order to gain their political favour. The area is rich on natural resources and corruption. These political families have in the past engaged in mass murder and have never been held effectively to account.

President Duterte has declared Martial Law in the province of Mindanao to allow the AFP to engage effectively and prevent any wider insurrection gaining a foothold. Security is also being increased in the National Capital Region.

Martial Law is controversial here because of the abuses during the Marcos era, and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army is already issuing condemnatory declarations. They hardly enhance their credibility by effectively giving comfort to the barbaric killers.

Perhaps surprisingly the robustly independent press seem to be giving Duterte the benefit of the doubt. Several well know commentators have recently been intimating that the time has come to take the gloves off and liquidate the terrorist gangs before it’s too late. Of course, there is a largeish presence of US forces in the country for reasons of which no one seems quite certain, but whether they would be inclined to offer support is moot. The US President has just concluded a suspiciously friendly visit to Saudi Arabia, the source of the perverted theology that drives the ISIS-supporting groups. One feels sorry for the ordinary Filipino Muslims who are the most likely to suffer.

Tom Pinoy

P.S. We seem safe as ever in the NCR and reassured by police checkpoints. There may be increased visibility of AFP personnel but there seems no intention of extending Martial Law beyond the currently affected area.