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Michelle B. Celebrado

Professor Marikit Uychoco

English 10

20 March 2014

Terrorism: A Problem in the Philippines

Bomb attacks, kidnappings and murders. These are the words that comes to our mind when

we hear the word terrorism. Terrorism is an already known problem in our country, for it brings every

day horror to the people living in the area, and it really affects not only the people, but also the

country as a whole. The government actually did so many actions just to protect the people from

being harmed by the terrorists. But the question is, are governments actions in resolving the issues

on terrorism in the country, particularly in Mindanao area, enough to keep peace?

Terrorism was defined as: Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in

the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any

circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological,

racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them (United Nations

General Assembly). The Philippines is used as a home for many terrorism-related activities that are

conducted by Islamic terrorist groups, particularly in the southern area even before the 9/11 attack.

According to Preeti Bhattacharji, from Council on Foreign Relations, these terrorist activities are

being linked to a number of militant groups such as The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), The Communist

Party of the Philippines (or New Peoples Army), Jemaah Islamiyah, Alex Boncayao Brigade,

Pentagon Gang, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and

currently the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). These groups have conducted many

attacks within the Philippines for almost three decades which have killed hundreds of people, and

most of them were civilians.


Terrorist organizations that are active in the Philippines are the Abu Sayyaf Group, New

Peoples Army and Jemaah Islamiyah. But after the 2007 report from the Congressional Research

Service, two more militant groups are being monitored later on: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

(MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The Archive Web site of the Anti-Defamation

League (ADL) said that Abu Sayyaf, which means Bearer of the Sword in Arabic, is the most active

and the most ferocious Islamic militant group in the Southern Philippines that occurred in 1991 as a

separate group of the MNLF (Philippines and Terrorism). The group was also involved in many

issues of kidnappings (kidnap-for-ransom), bombings, robbery, piracy, assassinations and extortion.

Another group is the New Peoples Army (NPA), a military extension of the Communist Party

of the Philippines (CPP). It was founded by Jose Maria Sison in 1969 with an aim of ousting the

Philippine government through guerrilla warfare and was against the U.S. military manifestation in

the Philippines (Philippines and Terrorism). In addition, it primarily targets the Philippine security

forces, politicians, judges, government informers and former NPA rebels. Another is Jemaah

Islamiyah that based in Indonesia and has been operating in the Philippines. According to Preeti

Bhattacharji, Jemaah has been tied up with Al-Qaeda by providing the former with financial supports

and training camps in Mindanao. In an article for the Journal of International Affairs, Sidney Jones,

an expert on South East Asian Terrorism, says that cooperation between Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-

Qaeda peaked between 1997 and 2002.

The largest Islamic terrorist group in the Philippines is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

(MILF), ruled by Salamat Hashim with an estimated 12,000 members in 2004, which aimed for a

separate Islamic state in the Southern Philippines (Philippines and Terrorism). The other one is the

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which is headed by Nur Misuari in early 1970s, and he is

also the forerunner of the MILF. From an article of, Nur Misuari affirmed an

independent Bangsamoro Republic on August 12, 2013 and made himself as the Chief of

Bangsamoro Armed Forces. According to Cris Larano, editor from Southeast Asia Real Time, a

month after the affirmation of Bangsamoro Republic, President Aquino initiated to bring Misuari

before the courts to answer for the standoff in Zamboanga City about an attack in Mindanao, around

300 miles from Midsayap, North Cotabato, in which the government estimates the cost to be 90

Million dollars to rehabilitate. However, Misuaris whereabouts remains unknown. Later that year,

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a group of Muslim rebels that splinter from the larger MILF,

complaints peace talks with the government.

Maybe youre wondering why there are so many terrorist groups in the Philippines and some

are still active. This is because each of these terrorist groups in the Philippines has different

purposes and reasons in doing such petrifying activities. The reason being heard of is about creating

their own Islamic State in the Southern Philippines. Other reasons include the Islamic minority

resentment, enduring poverty, and to weak government control in the area (U.S. State Department).

According to Estrella Torres, reporter from, other information said that these

rebels carried out bomb attacks against the ruling government, public and private facilities in Central

and Western areas of Mindanao, and other operations in the country. But the most alarming is that

they do terrible activities such as kidnapping or kidnap-for-ransom, bomb-for-hire, bomb-for-sale and

extortion just to make revenue for self-sustainment and to ensure protection of their families by just

obeying their bosses. Aside from the reasons being stated, is issue in religion a factor that

contributes to terrorism?

It is important to know that in the Quran, terrorism is above all murder, and murder is strictly

forbidden. According to the Quran 6:151, it says, and do not kill a soul that God has made

sacrosanct, save lawfully. In other words, murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the

state for crime is permitted. Quran 5:53 says, whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for

wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it

shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. Killing is actually allowed in Islam, but it depends

because there are several laws about it in the Quran. For instance, according to Sahih Bukhari,

Prophetic Commentary on the Qur'an, it is permissible to punish the aggressor the same way he

violated his victim because equality in punishment is prescribed by the law of Allah.

Moreover, words taken out of discourse are actually liable to false interpretation.

Manipulation of texts to select ones preferred words, phrases and sentences, while removing other

words, will change the meaning of the original statement; therefore giving a new interpretation that

will serve as ones purpose, and this is actually what I think the terrorists did. They used Islamic

teachings with a different interpretation to justify terrorism. As an example, The Quran chapter The

Cow 2:190, says, Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not

hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors. Then if a careful selection happens, terrorists would

prefer to state only this part of the verse: Fight in the way of God, so the meaning, therefore,

becomes violent.

Nowadays, and even from past incidents, terrorists are being blamed for so many bomb

attacks in Mindanao that killed many innocent people. For instance, remember the 2004 Super Ferry

14 bombing which resulted to deaths of 116 people, 63 of them were confirmed dead and 53 more

were reported missing and presumed dead. The cause of death was came from an 8-pound (3.6

kilograms) TNT bomb, a bomb triggered by a timing device, which was placed inside a television set

by a man named Redondo Cain Dellosa, a Raja Sulaiman Movement member for the Abu Sayyaf

guerilla group (Human Rights Watch). Terrorist attacks greatly affect the lives of many people that

are composed mainly of civilians by having so many destroyed buildings, businesses, infrastructures

and government and private establishments that cost millions of peso to rehabilitate.

Terrorism may also affect the tourism in the Philippines. For instance, Cagayan de Oro City,

known as the Rafting Capital of the Philippines, is the center of economic activity and a popular

tourist destination. But because of bomb attacks and reports of terrorism, the tourism in the place

has been affected. Other countries warned their citizens from traveling to parts of Mindanao since

they want to protect their citizens from any danger in relation to this terror attacks. In consequence,

such travel advisories affected not only tourism but also investments from foreign investors.

The effects of terrorism in detail are very traumatizing. Bomb attacks, stray bullets,

kidnappings, assassinations and the idea that terrorists could attack anytime and anywhere at the

least expected moment actually bring everyday horror to the people living in the area. There were

also initial reports of the possibility that civilians were used as human shields. Other outcomes of

terrorism include suspension of classes and work in public and private offices, closed business

establishments, suspended commercial flights to Zamboanga International Airport and ferry services

to the port of Zamboanga as government troops secured places of entry to prevent the access of

some terrorists into the city. On the other hand, effects of terrorism may also bring a positive side

like on how the government took actions to secure public safety and how the government improved

the already implemented actions to fight against terrorism.

Governments actions include the implementation of security forces to form task groups that

will secure areas with threats in Mindanao, or the so-called hotspots and danger zones. The

secured environment was intended for the protection of many Filipinos and Foreigners. Other

actions of the government involved the tightened security, police visibility in the area, intelligence

operatives, warnings, direct sharing of information among responsible agencies for immediate

actions and heightened alert levels in Mindanao areas and other cases.

In 2000, Ex. President Joseph Estrada ordered an all-out war against rebels just to end the

war in Mindanao (Espejo, 2013). However, this order by Ex. President Estrada had resulted to a

more serious problem. His plan didnt go along well with the next presidents, until peace

negotiations/agreements/talks became the dominant solutions to keep peace between the

government and the rebels. But with the wide spread of Al-Qaeda and many other terrorist groups

around the globe and an increase in its members that linked with different terrorist groups therefore,

the Philippines counterterrorism efforts have led to more intensified actions. This was by being allied

with U.S. through supporting and cooperating in their counterterrorism efforts.

Since the Treaty of Paris ended, up to the declaration of Philippine independence in 1946,

the U.S. and the Philippines have been strong allies for several decades. According to the State

Department, Philippine officials have cooperated with the American Embassy by giving them access

to terrorist internees and witnesses for NBI interviews, and access to criminal, immigration, financial,

and biographic records via the mechanisms established in the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Legal

Assistance Treaty. In addition, the U.S. military forces have engaged in many counterterrorism

exercises with the Philippine military forces, such as the Annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder)

bilateral military exercises and special programs like the Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA),

which used to increase Filipino law enforcement capabilities with the use of equipment and training

(Bhattacharji, 2009). According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Washington installed The

Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) in the Philippines with equipment, software and training to

enhance their ability to protect the countrys borders. Also, American soldiers were sent to train

hundreds of Filipino law enforcement officers in counterterrorism techniques. And according to the

Council on Foreign Relations, the state and defense departments will reward the informants in the

Philippines whose information will lead to the arrest of the suspected terrorists.

Despite these different actions performed by the Philippine government just to maintain

peace and order in the country, terrorist activities in the Philippines still continues due to limited

financial resources, inadequate salaries, corruption, incomplete cooperation between police and

prosecutors and other problems about law enforcements. For instance, military and police actions

are slow, for there are still cases under investigations and causes of such that are still undetermined.

Also, military and police forces couldnt stop some local terrorists even though they know the

location of some of them.

Moreover, there are intelligence funds used to get the information about the terrorists and

their whereabouts; however, are these funds used appropriately in getting such information? Or was

it just corrupted by the officials-in-charge? The point is, they already know the locations of some

local terrorists because of intelligence funds (e.g. the Abu Sayyaf was located in some isolated

places in Sulu province) and then all they need to do is to stop them and other terrorist groups in any

ways they can to protect people and the country.

Furthermore, security forces as a whole should be more restricted and tightened to secure

the environment while the government must be responsible enough, mostly in issue that public

safety is at risk. In addition, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups has remained a threat although the

Al-Qaedas leader, Osama bin Laden was dead since 2011. And in fact, the country was vulnerable

for handling and producing local materials for these destructive weapons due to high capacity of

global trade. The control of the Philippine government and the rule of law in Mindanao areas are

weak since the Philippines is composed of too many islands with mountainous terrain, poverty and

local Muslim minority resentment of central government policies. As a result, it will be difficult for the

government to maintain peace and order in the place. So what will we do to maintain peace and


On the whole, the Philippine government has already implemented so many actions and

solutions just to maintain peace and order in the country. However, in spite of all the things the

government did just to secure public safety, these actions were still not enough. That is why the

Philippine government should think of new ways on how to improve security forces and how to

improve Mindanao areas that were affected by terrorism in particular. Essentially, the problems were

not with the implemented actions of the government (or how bad or well the actions are) in resolving

the issues of terrorism. This is because the real problems came from the person and how he/she

handles the situation.

For instance, there was a disunity of governance in Mindanao because there are some

people who want to control everything or to become superior. Thats why there were so many

groups which initially came from the larger group. But because of misunderstanding, others break

away and form their own group. Therefore, the Philippine government should know how to improve

the governance in Mindanao to prevent such disunity. Improving governance in Mindanao is very

significant, particularly in some disordered areas such as Sulu archipelago (Jolo and Tawi-tawi) and

ARMM. Though if none of these would work, iron-hand rule can be a better option.

In reality, poverty is one of the cause of terrorism in the Philippines since most terrorist

activities include kidnapping or kidnap-for-ransom, bomb-for-hire, bomb-for-sale and extortion. And

in fact, they did such dreadful activities to earn income for self-sustainment and protection for their

family. For that reason, the Philippine government should develop many projects that everyone will

benefit, especially Filipinos who are living in distress in order to minimize poverty therefore

minimizing the cases of terrorism. Development projects could be like: providing essential

government services; building infrastructures, schools and establishments; and giving more quality

education. Having more quality education will lessen poverty and promote good leadership that will

result to peace and unity. It is also important that the government should urge the public to

cooperate in the tightened security operations so that it will be easy for the government to manage

or to take actions when something goes wrong. Like when people are in public transportations such

as MRT and LRT, commuters should be patient when security personnel are doing inspection. The

public should also cooperate by informing police officials about suspicious-looking people and


According to Rommel Banlaoi, an executive director of the Manila think-tank Philippine

Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, which has widely covered the Muslim conflict,

he said that any peace accord between the government and the MILF will no longer guarantee the

end of war in Mindanao. In other words, peace negotiations are actually good to reduce the risk

from harming innocent people, but it seems not to work. This is because there are some groups

which didnt like the idea of peace agreement or there would be a misunderstanding between them

and the government, so they will break away and form another group and fight the government.

Actually, different terrorist organizations have emerged from the same notion, and that is having a

different objective. It seems like they just misinterpret the others ideas, thats why they create their

own idea carrying their beliefs because for them, theyre the one whos right. In addition, from all the

problems faced by the government in relation to terrorism, it is important that for every problem

faced by the country, there should be immediate actions with appropriate solutions.

Works Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Philippines and Terrorism. April 2004. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Bhattacharji, Preeti. Terrorism Havens: Philippines. Council on Foreign Relations, 1 June 2009.

Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Espejo, Edwin. Mindanao bombs: Over 300 killed in 12 years. 5 Aug. 2013.

Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Larano, Cris, and Josephine Cuneta. Muslim Rebels Attack Another Philippine Town in Mindanao.

Southeast Asia Real Time-WSJ. 23 Sept. 2013 Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

"Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism." United Nations Declaration on Measures to

Eliminate International Terrorism annex to UN General Assembly resolution 49/60.

UN Doc. A/Res/60/49. 9 December 1994. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Mendez, Christina and Marvin Sy. Al-Qaeda-linked group eyed in Mindanao attacks. 8 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

New Analysis: Attack in Zamboanga could derail peace process in Mindanao.

10 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Olson, Wyatt. U.S. troops see terrorism threat diminish on Philippine Island of Mindanao.

Stars and Stripes. 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Romero, Alexis. AFP downplays terror threat in Mindanao. 4 July 2013. Web.

15 Jan. 2014.

Torres, Estrella. Mindanao remains terrorists haven U.S. Business Mirror. 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 18

Jan. 2014.