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Global Lessons Learned and Policy Options
for the Duterte Government and Beyond

Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

Marawi City Siege and Threats of
Narcoterrorism in the Philippines:
Global Lessons Learned and Policy Options
for the Duterte Government and Beyond

Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

Dedicated to the memory of


my friend, my mentor, my buddy, and
the father of counter-terrorism investigation
in the Philippines!

We will continue your work and

enrich your legacy as a true patriot
Marawi City Siege and Threats of Narcoterrorism in the Philippines:
Global Lessons Learned and Policy Options
for the Duterte Government and Beyond

By Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD


by Rommel C. Banlaoi

All rights reserved.

Except for brief quotations for scholarly purposes, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, and
recordings and/or otherwise without the prior written permission of the author. You may reach the author
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Published by

Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR)

Quezon City, Philippines

Recommended Bibliographic Entry:

Rommel C. Banlaoi, Marawi City Siege and Threats of Narcoterrorism in the Philippines: Global Lessons
Learned and Policy Options for the Duterte Government and Beyond (Quezon City: Philippine Institute
for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, 2018).

ISBN 978-971-93769-2-2




Terrorism, Drugs, and the Siege of Marawi City

What is Narcoterrorism?

Narcoterrorism: Global Situation

Countering Narcoterrorism: Global Lessons Learned

Marawi City Siege and its Aftermath:
The Current State of Narcoterrorism in the Philippines

Countering Narcoterrorism: Policy Options and Alternatives
for the Duterte Government and Beyond





Finishing this work was a difficult struggle as it came from a deep sorrow following the
unexpected demise of a dear friend and an excellent mentor, Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza.
Before his death, “Ka Boogie”, as I fondly called him, turned over to me files of documents
and personally handwritten notes describing his long investigative work on threats of
insurgency and terrorism in the Philippines. I promised to organize these documents and
notes to come out with a scholarly paper authored by him.
Based from his notes and documents, Ka Boogie wanted me to write first a short paper
on the New People’s Army (NPA) to coincide with the 50th founding anniversary of the
NPA. Ka Boogie wanted me to underscore some changes and continuities of the NPA as a
rebel army of Filipino communists and to highlight the growing alliance between the NPA
and the Moro secessionist groups in the Southern Philippines, especially in the context of the
rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). I told him that I was finishing a publication
on narcoterrorism and I promised that the short paper he requested would be next to my
writing agenda.
Boogie passed away without seeing the short paper he would have wanted me to write.
But his instruction prompted me hurriedly finish this work on narcoterrorism so I can move
on the paper on the NPA and its inextricable link with the Moro rebellion.
I therefore thank Ka Boogie for his encouragement, support and inspiration. Without
Ka Boogie, I would not have developed a solid niche in counter-terrorism research in the
Philippines. I sincerely owe him a very deep debt of gratitude. I give to him my highest
respect not only for being a sincere best friend, a true mentor, and a reliable buddy but also
for being a genuine patriot – a trait worthy of emulation to us all.
Ka Boogie’s views were oftentimes misunderstood, if not maligned, because he was
ahead of his time. His out-of-the-box thinking spurred controversies because he was using
an unfamiliar lens that only him could use.
Like a fox, Ka Boogie could smell danger from afar. Like a fortuneteller, Ka Boogie
could foresee ominous events like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin
Tower of New York City. He also anticipated the Marawi City siege when he warned months
before that followers were planning big and bold attacks to impress ISIS in an interview with
ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). These prompted others to describe him as too alarmist.
But he developed this one-of-a-kind attitude through many years of hard experiences as
a spy par excellence of the Philippine government. Thus, Glenda Gloria would call him a
“consummate spy”, a “bullheaded strategist and psywar expert” – an ”intelligence officer
through and through.”
For PIPVTR, Ka Boogie was our legendary James Bond, the spy who really loved this
country until the last breathe of his life. He deliberately sacrificed his personal quality time
with his family so he could offer more precious time for our country.
Ka Boogie’s high sense of patriotism does not die with him. His patriotism lives on the
younger colleagues, friends and followers who continue to believe in him and his legacies. We
thank you Ka Boogie for setting a good example for us. We will raise the torch of patriotism
that you instilled in us.
This work evolves from the policy paper I wrote in 2016 for PCSupt. Albert Ignacius
Ferro whom Ka Boogie also mentored. PCSupt. Ferro was serving then as Director of the
now defunct Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP). I
decided to update this policy paper when PCSupt. Ferro received his appointment as Director
of the Drugs Enforcement Group (DEG) of the PNP. I am very grateful to PCSupt. Ferro for
his continuing support and friendship.
I have many colleagues and friends in the academe, government and intelligence
community who also supported me in this work. I thank them all for the continuing
assistance. But I would like to render special mention to Abu Hamdie and Billy who, until
now, assist me in my counter-terrorism research activities.
Most importantly, I thank my wife, Grace, for his strong patience, and profound
understanding. Marrying an academic working on counter-terrorism research like me takes
more courage and perseverance. I admire her so dearly for the enduring and unconditional
I also acknowledge our three children: Zed, Zac and Zoe for the right behavior I needed
when I was writing this work. My children always remind me to enjoy life with them.
My children taught me how to combine work and leisure and achieve the quality work-life
Of course, if there is any factual inaccuracy, lapse in judgment, and substantive error
arising from this work, the accountability is all mine.
Though his work aims to help government develop sound policies in countering
narcoterrorism, all views articulated in this work are my personal academic perspectives.
Though this work uses some government sources as references, conclusions coming from
this study do not represent any official position of the Philippine government.

This work marks the first year of the Marawi City siege that began on 23 May 2017. This
incident was the longest urban battle ever confronted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP). It took the AFP 154 days before it liberated Marawi City from armed groups that
claimed to be followers of ISIS in the Philippines.
The Marawi City siege was a game-changer in the history of Philippine counter-
insurgency operations as the main battle area was an urban terrain and not a guerilla zone
in the forested areas. For almost five decades, the Philippine government has fought armed
insurgencies in the countryside. The Marawi City siege taught the Philippine military to also
learn how to fight in the city.
The Marawi City siege was also a mind-blowing incident as it strongly demonstrated
the complex nexus of crime, insurgency and terrorism in the Philippines. For half a century
after the Second World War, the Philippine government has fought crime, insurgency and
terrorism separately from each other with a delineation of the function of the police and the
military. In the aftermath of the siege, the Philippine government has truly realized the value
of security convergence and the importance of comprehensive approach whether in the form
of “whole-of-government”, “whole-of-society”, or “whole-of-nation” approaches.
One of the major crimes exhibited during the Marawi City siege was the financing of
terrorism from illegal drug operations. Scholars and experts describe this phenomenon as
narcoterrorism where terrorism and illegal drug trafficking effectively converge.
This study examines narcoterrorism in the Philippines using the case of the Marawi
City siege. This is the first in a series of publications that the Philippine Institute for Peace,
Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) intends to publish on the Marawi City siege.
Forthcoming publications on the topic will include the role of foreign terrorist fighters and
transnational organized crimes in the Marawi City siege. PIPVTR hopes to publish these
forthcoming studies in October 2018 to mark the liberation of Marawi City from ISIS.
It is an ardent desire of PIPVTR to see this present study adding value to our knowledge
of the Marawi City siege. Through this study, PIPVTR also endeavors to contribute to policy
development in order to counter the evolving threat of narcoterrorism confronting the
Philippines and its neighbors.

Threats of narcoterrorism have received very serious attention in the Philippine when
the Philippine government under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
vigorously raised the menace in the aftermath of the 2 September 2016 Davao City bombing
and the 23 May 2017 Marawi City siege. Though narcoterrorism has been a global problem
since the 1980s, it takes almost four decades for the Philippine government to realize the
gravity of this threat only in the aftermath of the siege of Marawi City by armed groups
claiming to be part of the Islamic State (IS), more known initially as the Islamic State of Iraq
and Syria (ISIS). As a result, the Duterte Administration securitized narcoterrorism in his
National Security Policy 2017-2022 and National Security Strategy 2018 declaring drugs and
terrorism as national security threats.
As a concept, narcoterrorism remains to be very nebulous. As a threat, it arguably
presents panoply of complex security challenges for law enforcement not only for the
Philippines but also for the international community.
Other countries have been combating narcoterrorism for years with mixed results
and unintended consequences. Based on great lessons learned from exemplary practices of
other countries and cognizant of the Philippines’ own unique situations and experiences, the
Duterte government needs to develop a more humane and socially responsible innovative
anti-narcoterrorism approach that applies not only a strong law enforcement but also a
decisive treatment through rehabilitation and care.

Terrorism, Drugs, and the Siege of Marawi City

When then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte took office on 30 June 2016 as
the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, he declared the “war on drugs” as his
rallying cause.1 President Duterte even reiterated that the war on drugs would continue to be
the centerpiece of his policy until the “dying days of my presidency, or my life.”2
While waging the war on drugs, President Duterte inevitably confronts the continuing
battle against terrorist threats in the Philippines.3 The Davao City bombing on 2 September
2016 and the 23 May 2017 Marawi City siege have aptly unveiled the panoply of security
threats facing the Philippines involving drugs and terrorism.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa,
has attributed the perpetrator of the Davao City bombing from narcoterrorism where
drug money finances terrorism. Even part of the financing of the Marawi City siege by the
Mindanao affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)4 has also been linked with
narco-politicians operating in Lanao del Sur.
The Marawi City Siege is a seminal case in the Philippines where the complex nexus of
illegal drug trade and terrorism exists. It is an epoch-making event in the Philippines that
empirically demonstrates how drug money can also finance acts of terrorism.
Because of the nexus of drugs and terrorism in the Marawi City Siege, President Duterte
has securitized his war on drugs and his war on terrorism. In the National Security Policy
2017-2022, President Duterte declares drugs and terrorism as national security threats.5 In
its national security goals and strategic objectives, the Duterte Administration intends to
launch “holistic program” to combat illegal drugs, criminality, corruption, terrorism and
transnational crimes in order to strengthen public safety, law and order, and the administration
of justice in the Philippines.
But what is narcoterrorism?
How serious is the threat of narcoterrorism in the Philippines?
This study describes the conceptual ramifications of narcoterrorism in order to inform
policy makers and the greater public on its various meanings and understandings. It presents
narcoterrorism not only as a domestic problem but also as a regional and global threat.
To get lessons learned from international exemplary practices, this study also illustrates
how other countries have confronted narcoterrorism. This study particularly underscores

the results and consequences of various counter-measures initiated by other countries in

order to provide the Philippine government vital inputs for policy development and strategy
More importantly, this study examines the state of narcoterrorism in the Philippines
focusing on the Marawi City siege. Finally, this study proposes policy options for the
remaining years of the Duterte Administration to counter narcoterrorism in the country
based on great lessons learned from global practices and experiences of other countries.
What is Narcoterrorism?

The term narcoterrorism is oftentimes associated with the

nexus of drugs and terrorism. It also pertains to the interplay and
convergence of narcotics syndicates and terrorist organizations. Despite its
Despite its common use, it is very lamenting to underscore that there common
has been no commonly acceptable definition of narcoterrorism. As use, it is very
argued by a scholar specializing on the topic: lamenting to
underscore that
there has been
Narcoterrorism is one of today’s buzzwords in no commonly
foreign and domestic policy. It should be noted, acceptable
however, that even though the word is frequently definition of
used and serves as the foundation of several policy
decisions, its definition is ambiguous and that it has
different focus and implications depending on what
part of the composite word is emphasized.6

But many experts agreed that former Peruvian President

Belaunde Terry originally coined the said term in 1983 to describe
terrorist attacks on his counter-narcotics police forces by rebel
forces. These rebels belonged to the Sendero Luminoso, more
known as the Shining Path, a virulent communist party in Peru.7
Eventually, the term narcoterrorism referred to violent activities
of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) or
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. Latin American
authorities blamed the FARC and the Shining Path for perpetrating
terrorism and trafficking of prohibited drugs in the Latin American
In the 1990s, particularly after the end of the cold war, the
definition of narcoterrorism expanded to include violent activities
of both drug syndicates and rebel groups. At the turn of the 21st
century, scholars and experts used the concept of narcoterrorism to
grapple with the involvement of terrorist groups in drug trafficking,
particularly those associated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. At present,

many scholars and experts use narcoterrorism to describe the complex nexus of drugs and
terrorism, although this nexus arguably still lacks conceptual clarity and policy coherence.
Because narcoterrorism involves the twin problem of drug trafficking and terrorism, it
has acquired a “dual character” that remains to be conceptually problematic because of its
ambiguity. Narcoterrorism attempts to merge two problems under a single roof: the war on
drugs and the war on terrorism.
But the “the merger of the two phenomena” is complicating rather than facilitating,
clarification of the two concepts that narcoterrorism attempts to embody.9 There is still a
lack of satisfactory explanation on whether narcoterrorism places more emphasis on the
drug aspect of terrorism or gives more stress on the terrorist dimension of drug trafficking.
Some studies use the term narcoterrorism to describe the collaboration of terrorist groups
and drug syndicates.10 Others use narcoterrorism to explain the financing of terrorism from
drug money.11
Apparently, narcoterrorism is a highly contested concept. But the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) of the United States defines narcoterrorism as “a subset of terrorism,
in which terrorist groups, or associated individuals, participate directly or indirectly in the
cultivation, manufacture, transportation, or distribution of controlled substances and the
monies derived from these activities.12 Simply put, narcoterrorism pertains to “terrorist/
insurgent organizations that use drug trafficking proceeds to advance their political agenda.” 13 From
this view, narcoterrorism endorses the war on drugs in the context of the war on terrorism.
Thus, combating narcoterrorism is placed under counterterrorism. Institutions
responsible for counterterrorism are given the responsibility to combat narcoterrorism.
There is another view, however, using narcoterrorism to privilege more the narcotics
aspect of terrorism.14 This view pursues counterterrorism in the context of the war on drugs.
Thus, institutions responsible for counternarcotics are given the responsibility to combat
But others avoid this dichotomy by advocating for an interagency collaboration to
combat narcoterrorism in a holistic manner.16 To counter narcoterrorism, some countries
apply a whole-of-government approach by mobilizing the resources of the whole
government bureaucracy involved in countering terrorism and illegal use of drugs. Other
countries advocate a whole-of-nation approach to include civil societies, non-government
organizations, academic communities and policy think tanks in addressing the threat of
Narcoterrorism: Global Situation

Despite the lack of conceptual clarity, there is no doubt that

narcoterrorism poses serious threats to international peace and
security. The threat of narcoterrorism is real rather than imagined.
Narcoterrorism is a global threat that severely affects the Philippines. Despite
If not swiftly abated, narcoterrorist threats in the Philippines can the lack of
also unleash adverse impact not only on Filipinos but also on the clarity, there is
international community. no doubt that
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) narcoterrorism
poses serious
recognizes the growing problem of the financing of terrorism from threats to
illicit drug profits. The UNODC says that drugs continue to provide international
peace and
revenue for organized crime networks, including terrorism.17 The security. The
UNODC also examines different forms of violence associated with threat of
drug trafficking and its links to terrorism.18 narcoterrorism
is real rather
The UNODC correlates the increased incidents of drug than imagined.
trafficking to increased incidents of terrorist attacks worldwide. In
the production of opium poppy in Afghanistan, for example, the
UNODC reveals in its 2016 World Drug Report that a 25 percent
increase in the number of hectares cultivated also results in 0.15
percent increase of terrorist attacks with 1.43 percent increase in
casualties annually.19 The UNODC elaborates:

In a number of countries, resources generated

by illicit activities such as drug trafficking have
played a role in complicating and extending armed
conflicts, often increasing their overall lethality. The
connection between the illicit drug trade and non-
state armed groups has materialized in high-profile
examples such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar
and Peru. In Afghanistan, an analysis of the impact of
opium production on terrorist attacks and casualties
between 1994 and 2008 estimated that a 25 per cent
increase in the number of hectares of cultivated
opium poppy was associated with an average of 0.15

more terrorist attacks and 1.43 casualties per year.20

the observation In May 2017, the UNODC updated its data and released its
that that drug World Drug Report 2017 where a quarter of the billion people
contributes to were reported to have used illegal drugs. The World Drug Report
the financing 2017 devotes one booklet (Booklet 5) to examine the connection
of terrorism, of drugs and terrorism. In this booklet, the UNODC reveals that
strong some terrorist groups benefit from illegal drug trades.21 Based on
linking some some evidences it gathers from various sources on the ground, the
terrorist UNODC observes:
groups to drug
remain to be
thin. Some evidence suggests that Al-Qaida in the
Islamic Maghreb, which operates primarily in North
and West Africa, has been involved in cannabis
and cocaine trafficking, or at least in protecting
traffickers, though the group’s overall income
from the drug sector appears to have been rather
modest. Individual commanders of the Movement
for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which broke
away from Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, seem at
present to be directly involved in drug trafficking. In
and around the Syrian Arab Republic, seizure data
on “captagon” pills — typically amphetamine mixed
with caffeine — suggest that a manufacturing hub
exists in the area of operations of ISIL, Al-Qaida
offshoot Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as
Al-Nusrah Front) and other armed groups. ISIL and
other non-State armed groups have been linked in
media reports to the production of “captagon”.22

Despite the observation that that drug trafficking contributes

to the financing of terrorism, strong evidences linking some terrorist
groups to drug trafficking remain to be thin. There is no doubt that
terrorist groups, like the Talibans in Afghanistan, “that aspire to
control large amounts of territory need huge financial resources,
and have relied on organized crime and the illicit drug trade to fund

their ambitions.”23 But existing evidences are not conclusive to claim terrorist groups as drug
traffickers. Available evidences only tell, “Income linked to the drug sector is only one of
several revenue streams for terrorist groups. If one revenue stream dries up, another can be
tapped, such as extortion, kidnapping for ransom, bank robberies, sale of natural resources
or sale of cultural artifacts.”24

Global Trends in Drug Use

Source: World Drug Report

From other study, the Terrorism Knowledge Base identified 395 terrorist organizations
with involvements in various crimes from 1998 to 2005. The Terrorism Knowledge Base
discovered that 35 organizations, representing 9 percent, were engaged in drug trafficking.25
This study also found that international terrorist organizations “are more likely to engage in
drug trafficking when they have the logistical capability and the necessary network.”26
In the investigative study published in 2002 by the US Department of Defense (DOD)

in collaboration with the Federal Research Division of the Library

The of Congress, several foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) were
intersection identified to be recipients of narcotics funding.27 The Abu Sayyaf
between major Group (ASG) of the Southern Philippines was included in the
drug trafficking
routes and investigative study. Thus, the ASG is in the global strategic radar
terrorist of counter narcoterrorism investigations. Some narcotics funded
activities terrorist organizations examined and mentioned in the study are the
has not been following:
• Al Qaeda (Afghanistan and Pakistan)
• Basque Fatherland and Liberty (Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna or
ETA from Basque, Spain)
• FARC (Columbia)
• Ga-mat Islamiya (Egypt)
• Hamas (Palestine)
• Hezbollah (Iran and Lebanon)
• Irish Republican Army (IRA)
• Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
• Jamat Muslimeen (from Pakistan and Bangladesh)
• Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
• Liberation Army of Preševo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac
• Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE of Sri Lanka)
• National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo (NMLK)
and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
• National Liberation Army of Albania and Macedonia
• Shining Path (Peru)

More often than not, international terrorist organizations

use drug trafficking routes in their operations. The interregional
trafficking flows of methamphetamine, for example, provide routes
for terrorist groups to move around. In Southeast Asia, the trafficking
route of methamphetamine coincides with the operational route of
terrorist organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and
Thailand with links to drug syndicates in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar,
and Vietnam.28

The intersection between major drug trafficking routes and terrorist activities has not
been thoroughly studied. But the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has
already recognized the gravity of this problem as part of non-traditional security challenges,
particularly in the context of transnational organized crime.29 As early as 1976, in fact,
the Declaration of ASEAN Concord urged for intensified regional cooperation in order to
prevent and eradicate drug trafficking and narcotics abuse in Southeast Asia.

Drugs, Terrorism and Insurgency

Source: World Drug Report 2017

At least five distinct ways have been identified to show the links between drug trafficking
and terrorism:
1. Supplying cash for terrorist operations;
2. Creating chaos in countries where drugs are produced, through which they
pass, or in which they are sold at retail and consumed — chaos sometimes
deliberately cultivated by drug traffickers — which may provide an environment

conducive to terrorist activity;

3. Generating corruption in law enforcement, military, and other governmental
and civil-society institutions in ways that either build public support for
terrorist-linked groups or weaken the capacity of the society to combat
terrorist organizations and actions;
4. Providing services also useful for terrorist actions and movements of terrorist
personnel and materiel, and supporting a common infrastructure, such as
smuggling capabilities, illicit arms acquisition, money laundering, or the
production of false identification or other documents, capable of serving both
drug-trafficking and terrorist purposes; and,
5. Competing for law enforcement and intelligence attention.30

Methamphetamine Trafficking Routes Being Used by Terrorist Groups

Source: UNODC World Drug Report 2017


The UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch fully recognizes

that narcoterrorism is a global threat requiring “strong coordination Many
and cooperation within national governments and between states terrorist
and organizations at the regional and international level.”31 The incidents
Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which publishes the worldwide had
annual Global Terrorism Index, affirms that drugs not only fund connections
with drug
global terrorism but also induce users to commit acts of lone-wolf trafficking.
terrorism.32 Many recorded terrorist incidents worldwide had
connections with drug trafficking.
But the Global Terrorism Index 2016 produced by the
Institute for Economics and Peace does not specifically use the
term narcoterrorism to describe the nexus of drugs and terrorism.
Interestingly, the Global Terrorism Index 2016 lists the Philippines
as number 12 in the ranking of countries with the most number of
terrorist incidents recorded during the year.33
For 2017, the Institute for Economics and Peace released its
Global Terrorism Index 2017 in collaboration with the Vision of
Humanity (VOH).34 The report continues to rank the Philippines
as Number 12 in the list of countries in the world with the highest
impact of terrorism.35 Terrorist activities during the year also
continued to receive funding from various illicit sources like drug
trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, extortions, illegal
mining, and money laundering among others. In countries like
India and Nigeria, terrorist groups there exhibited the profile
of narcoterrorism with the close nexus of drug trafficking and
The Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent
Extremism of the US Department of State, which releases the
annual Country Reports on Terrorism, has also documented not
only foreign terrorist organizations involved in drug trafficking but
also terrorist personalities using drugs for their violent extremist
activities.37 In its July 2017 Country Reports on Terrorism, the US
Government recognizes the nexus of terrorism and drugs, but it
only uses the term narcoterrorism once when it discusses in the
report the problem in Peru.38 So, like the Global Terrorism Index
of the Institute for Economics and Peace, the Country Reports
on Terrorism does not also use narcoterrorism to highlight the

intersection of drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Nonetheless, both reports have
recognized the global problem of drugs and terrorism requiring international cooperation
and national capacity building involving not only state players but also civil society

The Impact of Terrorism Worldwide:

The Philippines Ranking Number 12

Source: UNODC World Drug Report 2017

Countering Narcoterrorism:
Global Lessons Learned

The international community, particularly the United Nations (UN), has proposed
various measures to promote international cooperation in combating narcoterrorism. Many
affected countries have also implemented their own domestic counter-measures. These
counter-measures have produced mixed results and unintended consequences that the
Philippine government needs to take into account in policy development and implementation.


As early as 1961, the UN already took action on global drug trafficking problem when
it passed the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The 1961 Convention endorsed
a law enforcement based approach to confront drug problem plaguing the international
community. The 1961 Convention criminalizes drug offenses and calls for a strong punitive
action against drug offenders.
In 1988, the UN passed another measure called the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in order the address criminal violence associated
with illegal drug use. The 1988 Convention recognizes “the links between illicit traffic and
other related organized criminal activities, which undermine the legitimate economies and
threaten the stability, security and sovereignty of States.”39 In 1993, the World Conference on
Human Rights reaffirms the connection between drugs and criminal violence, particularly
violence resulting from acts of terrorism, when it declares:

The acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
as well as linkage in some countries to drug trafficking are activities aimed
at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy,
threatening territorial integrity, security of States and destabilizing
legitimately constituted Governments. The international community should
take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat

In 2005, the UN General Assembly raises the alarm during its

In the 49th Session on the growing links between drugs and terrorism.
aftermath of Thus, it issues a declaration that “underlines the concern of the
the September international community at the growing and dangerous links
11, 2001 (9/11)
terrorist between terrorist groups, drug traffickers, and their paramilitary
attacks, some gangs which have resorted to all types of violence, thus endangering
countries the constitutional order of the States and violating basic human
sustained the rights.”41 Towards this end, the UN urges the UNODC to promote
war on drugs
in the context international cooperation and capacity building to combat the threat
of the war on of drugs and terrorism.
terrorism. The UNODC has recently developed a framework for action
to combat drugs and terrorism within the rubric of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). The UNODC asserts that in order to
be “sustainable development-sensitive”, efforts to address the world
drug problem need the following:

• To be in line with the requirements of the international

human rights instruments.
• To be gender-sensitive, so as to consider the
special needs of women and their greater level of
stigmatization when designing prevention programs,
treatment interventions for drug dependence, as
well as the criminal justice response to drug-related
• To be environmentally friendly, so as to ensure that
the curtailment of the illicit supply chain for drugs
does not cause deforestation or other environmental
• To ensure that “no one is left behind”, by, for example,
considering the special needs of men who have sex
with men when targeting the spread of infectious
diseases among PWID, and the special needs of
migrants, including international as well as internal
migrants, who can be particularly vulnerable to drug
• To overcome the stigmatization of drug users, as this
can lead to further marginalization.
• To be based on scientific evidence, so that drug policies
can address the core aspects of social development
and public health.42

At the country level, many countries have waged the war on drugs since the US began
its vigorous campaign in the 1970s. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 (9/11)
terrorist attacks, some countries sustained the war on drugs in the context of the war on
terrorism. Addressing the duo of drugs and terrorism informs the present campaign against


The US provides many lessons learned from its wars on drugs and terrorism. When it
first initiated the war on drugs in 1971, the US under the administration of then President
Richard Nixon declared drug abuse as “public enemy number one” after discovering the
heroin addiction of around 15 percent of US servicemen in Vietnam. Nixon increased
federal resources towards the “eradication, interdiction, and incarceration” of drug abusers.
In 1973, the US established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to replace
the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Because of the growing menace of drug
abuse in the US in the 1980s, the US Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) got strongly involved in drug interdiction measures. Since then, the US adopted
more punitive approaches to deter drug use and distribution not only in its homeland but
also in other countries.43
During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the US declared his new
version on the war on drugs by reducing funding for drug prevention and treatment and
increasing instead the federal budget for anti-drug law enforcement by almost 50 percent.44
As a result, many American drug users suffered imprisonment rather than medical
treatment as the US government viewed drug menace as a law enforcement problem rather
than a public health issue.
By 1994, around one million Americans suffered detention each year due to drug
offenses. When the US waged the war on terrorism in 2001, the figure increased to 1.5
million Americans being imprisoned each year in the 2008 estimates. The US war on drugs
suffered the unintended consequence of racial discrimination as most of those incarcerated
belonged to African-American communities. The US war on terror, on the hand, affected
many Arab-American communities.
The US war on drugs extended overseas. The US deployed the CIA abroad to operate
in drug-infested countries affecting the Americans. The US mobilized the military in
the global campaign against drugs in the context of Military Operations Other Than War
(MOOTW). The US implemented the Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, the Plan
Columbia in 1998, the Merida Initiative Mexico in 2008, and the Operation Honduras in

But in June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy

From 1970 to already declared the US war on drug and terrorism as a failure
2010, the US because it focused more on arrests and incarceration rather than
government on treatment and rehabilitation.45 Moreover, American taxpayers
spent $1.5
trillion on regarded the war on drugs as too costly, notwithstanding inadequate
the war on budgetary support for treatment of drug addicts.
drugs. Critics From 1970 to 2010, the US government spent $1.5 trillion
regarded this on the war on drugs. Critics regarded this amount as not
amount as not
commensurate commensurate with the drug addiction rate during the said period.
with the drug The so-called failure on US war on drugs was also attributed to the
addiction rate fact that 50 percent of detained Americans due to drug charges
during the said were repeat offenders. As a result, the US government issued a new
Drug Policy in May 2012 calling for increased budgetary support
for research and development on global drug problems and urging
for a rethinking of an anti-drug approach that measured success on
the basis of arrests and detentions of offenders.
On the war on terror, the US spent around $1.7 trillion
from 2001 to 2014 based on the report released by Congressional
Research Service (CRS). Because of the involvement on
international terrorist groups in illegal drug trade, the US also
pursued anti-narcoterrorism campaigns to coordinate its war on
drugs and war on terror. There is still a need to examine the US
achievements and challenges in its anti-narcoterrorism campaigns.
But other countries have already supported the US in its campaign
against narcoterrorism as a growing security threat.46 As a long-
standing security ally, the United Kingdom has joined the US in its
war against narcoterrorism.

US Drug Control Spending Vis a Vis US Drug Addiction Rate 1970 - 2010

Source: Matt Groft, The Atlantic, and 12 October 2012


In Europe, the UK has the highest level of illegal drug use.47 From mere 5,000 users in
1975, it grew to 281,000 in 2007. Thus, the UK also vigorously waged a war on drugs.
The US greatly influenced the development of anti-illegal drugs policy in the UK. The
US pressured the UK to pass the Drug (Regulation of Misuse) Act of 1964 and the Misuse
of Drugs Act of 1971. Like the US, the UK pursued strong punitive actions against drug
addicts. The UK also spent huge money to support its war on drugs. In 2009 alone, it was
estimated that the UK government was spending £16 billion a year in the war on drugs. The
UK followed the US model in criminalizing the illegal use of drugs.
But the UK avoided the pitfall of the US when London started investing more on
treatment programs for offenders by treating them as patients rather than criminals. In
1991, the UK passed a legislation that separated punitive and medical responses to drug
misuse. Though this legislation, the UK implemented treatment programs that tremendously
reduced the numbers of drug offenders to 48 percent based on a 2008 research report.48 As
elaborated by the Global Commission on Drug Policy:

Research carried out in the UK into the effects of

UK avoided their policy of diversion from custody into treatment
the pitfall of programs clearly demonstrated a reduction in
the US when offending following treatment intervention. In
London started
investing more addition to self-reports, the researchers in this case
on treatment also referred to police criminal records data. The
programs for research shows that the numbers of charges brought
offenders by against 1,476 drug users in the years before and after
treating them
as patients entering treatment reduced by 48 percent.
rather than
criminals. In 2009, the UK amended its 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. This
new legislation gives more emphasis on treatment of drug patients
rather than punishment of drug offenders. Treatment reduced drug
use and the concomitant crimes associated with drug use. Thus, the
UK reallocated more resources from incarceration of drug offenders
to treatment of drug patients. This exemplary practice from the UK
is now being studied by other countries for replication.
Because of the growing threats from narcoterrorism, the UK
also joined the US in the campaign against this menace. The UK
and the US are now pooling their resources together in waging a
war against narcoterrorism, particularly in West Africa where the
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is suspected to be using
drug money to finance its terrorist activities in the region.49 There
has been no systematic study, however, how the US and the UK are
achieving their goals in the fight against narcoterrorism, particularly
in terms of reducing illegal drug trade and preventing terrorist
attacks. But other major powers, like China, have also takes serious
counter measures to address security threats emanating from the
growing nexus of drugs and terrorism.


China is fighting its own battle against drugs and terrorism.

Though China became the world’s famous on drug issues because
of the two Opium Wars of the 19th century, China was relatively
unaffected by international drug network at the turn of the 20th
century due to limited consumer market and strong repressive actions

of the communist government against illegal drug use.50 In the 21st

century, however, China has the largest number of illegal drug users To address
in Asia as the consumer market for illegal drugs has widened in the health
security issues
country as a result of growing economic development and greater associated
openness to the outside world. with illegal
More than a million illegal drug users were recorded in China drug abuse,
in 2002.51 But in 2013, the total registered drug addicts reached 2.4 China also
million. To date, China is the largest seizure state of heroin in the treatment
world, the 2nd largest of amphetamines, the 7th largest of ecstasy, and and demand
the 9th largest of opium.52 Most of its illegal drugs are trafficked into reduction
China from the Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as programs.
well as from the Golden Crescent of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan
and even from the border of North Korea. From China, illegal
drugs are trafficked to countries in Southeast Asia, particularly to
Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Thus, China pursues tough measures to counter illegal drugs.
Originally, China had three government offices responsible for
countering illegal drugs: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of
Public Security, and the Customs General Administration. In 1990,
China established the National Narcotics Control Commission to
unify government efforts to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs in
the country. In 2004, the Chinese government launched the “people’s
war”53 against illegal drugs with greater focus on the Yunnan province
where the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia strongly operated.54
Recognizing that China could not defeat fighting illegal drugs alone,
it entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAT) with 24
nations, so far, to combat the criminal aspect of illegal drugs.
To address health security issues associated with illegal drug
abuse, China also launched treatment and demand reduction
programs. Its Public Health Bureaus build rehabilitation centers
and special facilities for the re-education of illegal drug users
through alternative labor trainings. China has also pursued a more
human treatment approach like the construction of Methadone
Maintenance Therapy (MMT) clinics.
China is also facing the problem of narcoterrorism because
of the involvement of some Uyghur militants in drug trafficking to
finance the activities of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement

(ETIM), a foreign terrorist organization operating in China,

Columbia particularly in Xinjiang province. China is using its war on drugs
became and war on terrorism to curtail security threats emanating from
the world’s militant activities of some Uyghur groups.55
epicenter of
drug trade
world’s leading
producer of Columbia became the world’s epicenter of drug trade being the
cocaine for
many decades. world’s leading producer of cocaine for many decades. Drug money
financed armed conflicts in Columbia. Many big international drug
cartels originated in Columbia: the Medellin Cartel, the Cali Cartel,
Norte del Valle Cartel, and the North Coast Cartel, among others.
FARC got its financing from the money of these drug cartels. Drugs
also greatly influenced the government and politics of Columbia. It
was in Columbia where the idea of narcopolitics evolved, though
some scholars said that the idea originally came from West Africa
with the establishment of some narco-states.
The United States implemented the Plan Columbia to fight
drugs and insurgency in the country, specifically the involvement
of FARC in drug trade and armed conflicts. The Plan Columbia
was a war on drug and was a counter-insurgency campaign at the
same time. Its original purpose was to defeat the FARC and its links
with drug cartels in Columbia by using both police and military
forces. The Plan Columbia also involved development measures ala
“Marshall Plan” to rebuild Columbia as a nation from the influence
of drugs.
The result of Plan Columbia was mix.56 It contributed immensely
to supply and demand reductions of drugs and was hailed as the “most
successful nation-building project” of the United States. Drug related
crime and violence declined to 50 percent. Columbia’s free market
economy grew steadily and by 2007, it enjoyed a growth rate of 6.7
percent, one of the highest growth rates in Latin America. In 2015,
Columbia saw the increase of new millionaires not from drug money
but from legitimate entrepreneurships. But Plan Columbia’s human
rights costs were considered massive with internal displacement of
around 4 million people and the tragic death of 220,000 persons
with 80 percent coming from the civilian population.57


in the war on
Like Columbia, Peru experienced similar problems of drugs, drugs helped
terrorism, and armed violence. It was in Peru when the idea of improve
narcoterrorism originated. The war on drugs in Peru was also waged Peruvian
in tandem with counter-insurgency, particularly against the Shining economy with
a GDP growth
Path.58 With the achievements of the intensified US-backed war on average of
drugs in Columbia, the UNODC reported that Peru became the around 6
world’s top cocaine producer in 2013 from a 60 percent producer in percent for the
1992.59 Mexican, Russian and Columbian drug cartels now operate past 10 years.
in Peru. Remnants of the Shining Path continue to have links with
illegal drug trade in the country. As a result, the war on drugs in
Peru became heavily militarized with the presence of American
troops in Peru to fight the menace.60
Achievements in the war on drugs helped improve Peruvian
economy with a GDP growth average of around 6 percent for the past
10 years. But the drug trade can undermine its present economic
growth if it continues unabated with its current trend. Peru has one
of the world’s longest wars on drug and its protracted war on drugs
can threaten its economy. As argued by an analyst, “Failing to deal
with its drug problem in the long-term will harm Peru’s continued
growth and, if its economy suffers a downturn, there is potential for
a major spike in violent crime and related activity.”61


In Southeast Asia, the fiercest battle against drug, thus far, was
in Thailand. During the administration of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, Thailand waged a bloody war against drugs that began
in February 2003. At that time, 5 percent (or 3 million) of its 63
million citizens were accused of drug addiction, particularly with
the use methamphetamines, or ‘crazy pills’ as Thai users would call
it. Thaksin pursued an aggressive law enforcement campaign against
drug dealers, users, and traffickers.
Though Thaksin’s war on drugs highlighted the need to
promote public education and awareness against drugs and to treat
drug addicts as patients rather than criminals, the actual practice

became a killing spree against drug users and dealers. Thaksin

Thaksin’s ordered “shoot-to-kill” to drug offenders.
bloody As result, the first three months of Thaksin’s war on drugs
crackdown on caused the death of 2,800 persons. The huge number of killings in
drugs in 2003
created social few months prompted the UN Human Rights Committee in 2005 to
and political raise serious concerns about the situation and urged the international
problems community to investigate “extra judicial killings” in Thailand.62
in Thailand Thaksin’s bloody crackdown on drugs in 2003 created social
investigations and political problems in Thailand because investigations showed
showed that that 50 percent of those who suffered deaths during the campaign
50 percent were found to have no links at all with drug trade. There were also
of those who allegations that local Thai police officers used Thaksin’s “shoot-to-
suffered deaths
during the kill” order to settle old scores. Investigations revealed that list of
campaign were persons for drug offense were flawed because:
found to have
no links at all Most names are drawn from the results of community
with drug trade.
meetings, which offered an opportunity for officials
with conflicts to enter the names of people unrelated
to the drug trade. Relatives and friends of those
accused are also lumped into the same category.
And ethnic minorities were subjected to stereotyped
beliefs that they were also involved in the drug

At present, illegal drug use continues to rise in Thailand. From

2009 to 2014, the drugs cases doubled from 151,000 to about 347,000
while registered drug offenders rose at a similar rate from 168,000
to 366,000.64
Marawi City Siege and Its Aftermath:
Current State of Narcoterrorism
in the Philippines

The Philippines is not spared from the problem of narcoterrorism.

The problem of drugs and the threat of terrorism poses clear and present The problem
of drugs and
danger to the well being of the Filipino people. the threat
According to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), of terrorism
11,321 villages or 26.93 percent of 42,036 villages in the Philippines poses clear and
were severely affected by drug problems. More than 3 million Filipinos present danger
were reported to be addicted to illegal drugs in 2015 based on the 2015 to the well being
Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the of the Filipino
Philippines conducted by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). In May
2017, PDEA reported that 4.7 million of Filipinos became users of illegal
drugs. This higher figure, PDEA argued, is more reflective of the real
situation on the ground.
Around 34 percent of crime incidents in the Philippines were
attributed to illegal drug use in 2013. Almost 80 percent of all heinous
crimes committed in the country were caused by drug addiction. The
UNODC reported that the Philippines became one of the key transit
points and major destination of illegal drugs, particularly amphetamines,
in Southeast Asia.
Illegal drug use not only encourages violent crimes but also fuels
terrorism in the Philippines. Some personalities associated with terrorist
groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic
Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were accused of either being drug addicts or
drug dealers. Lawless elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) and rouge members of the Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) were also accused of the same involvements in illegal drugs. It
will not be surprising if other personalities associated with other armed
groups like the Ansar Khilafa Philippines (AKP), the Maute Group, and
the Al Khobar Group (AKG) are also involved in illegal drug activities.
Conflict-affected areas in Philippines, particularly in Central
Mindanao, were also afflicted by drug problems. The International

Alert, a human rights organization, already warned that involvements of some armed groups in
illicit drugs in Mindanao could aversely affect the Bangsamoro peace process.65 The International
Alert asserts:

The illicit drug economy should be regarded as a strategic concern in the peace
process between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). Left unchecked, the combination of drug-related
corruption and violence is likely to have an adverse effect on the governance
institutions of the future Bangsamoro. Stakeholders in the peace process therefore
need to turn their attention to the drug economy and use the implementation of
the peace agreement as an opportunity to address the drug problem. Priorities
for action include using drug enforcement as a confidence-building measure,
insulating the new Bangsamoro police from corruption, providing alternative
economic opportunities for poor communities, challenging the sense of
impunity among drug criminals, preventing money laundering, and cutting the
links between criminals and politicians.66

Drug Affected Villages (Barangays) in the Philippines

Source: Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, February 2016


In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the connivance of terrorist

groups and drug syndicates has already been investigated. The ASG’s involvement in drug
trafficking has also been studied67 and properly documented.68 Thus, there was a reason why
the PNP described the Davao City bombing on 2 September 2016 as an act of narcoterrorism.
To combat illegal drugs, the Philippines has existing counter-narcotics institutions: the
PDEA, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and the now defunct Anti-Illegal Drugs Group
(AIDG) of the PNP. In March 2017, the PNP launched the Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) to
replace the AIDG. The Philippine Congress also has the Committee on Dangerous Drugs to
oversee the functions of PDEA, DDB and the DEG.
The PNP’s anti-illegal drugs campaign plan is called “Double Barrel”. The Lower Barrel is
dubbed “Project Tokhang” while the Upper Barrel is called “Project HVT (High Value Target)”.
There are five stages for the Project Tokhang:

1. Collection and validation of information

2. Coordination
3. House to house visitation
4. Processing and documentation
5. Monitoring and evaluation

Inter-Agency Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs

Source: Philippine National Police, February 2016.


The Project HVT is implemented through inter-agency coordination. Towards this

end, the Duterte government created the Inter-Agency Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs to
uphold the “Whole-of-Nation Approach”. A special fund was also allocated to support the
activities of the task force.
During its first 100 days in office covering the period 30 June to 7 October 2016, the
Duterte Administration reported to have conducted 7,928 anti-illegal drugs operations
with 8,428 persons arrested , 7,002 cases filed in court and a P8.21 billion worth of seized
illegal drugs. The government also dismantled several clandestine laboratories and chemical
warehouses being used for the manufacture of illegal drugs. It also arrested 538 high value
targets during the first 100 days in office of President Duterte.

Source: PDEA, 2016


Source: PDEA, 2016

Source: PDEA, 2016


But waging the war on drugs a year after, the Duterte

But waging the Administration suffered tremendous set-back when ISIS followers in
war on drugs Mindanao attempted to take over Marawi City in order to establish a
a year after,
the Duterte wilaya or a province of the Islamic State in the Southern Philippines.69
Administration The Philippine government disclosed that drug money financed the
suffered Marawi City siege.70 President Duterte himself asserted that money
set-back when from illegal drugs funded terrorist activities in Mindanao.71
ISIS followers In his report to the Philippine Congress to justify the declaration
in Mindanao of Martial Law in Mindanao, President Duterte argued that “foreign-
to take over based terrorist groups, the ISIS in particular, as well as illegal drug
Marawi City money, provide financial and logistical support to the Maute group.”72
in order to
establish a
In his speech at the 119th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy in
wilaya or a Davao City, President Duterte disclosed, “there was a time and until
province of now that the terrorism activities in the Philippines is funded and
the Islamic
State (IS) in fueled by drug money.”73
the Southern The Philippine government claimed that drug money
Philippines. significantly contributed to the financing of the Marawi City siege.
Then Presidential Spokesperson, Secretary Ernesto Abella, affirmed
this when he disclosed that “Local politicians in Mindanao adversely
affected by the government’s campaign against illegal drugs have
financed the Daesh-inspired Maute Group, whose attempt to
President undermine our sovereignty resulted in the rebellion in Marawi.”74
revealed that President Duterte even openly identified at least 44 local drug
drug lords lords who provided financial support to armed groups that carried
operating in out the Marawi City Siege.75 These drug lords belonged to a network
Lanao Del Sur
provided funds that President Duterte described in his so-called as LDS (Lanao del
to the Maute Sur) Drug Trade Link Diagram. President Duterte elaborated the
Group to carry problem of narcoterrorism in the Philippines when he presented on
out the Marawi
City siege. 22 September 2017 to the Davao City media the LDS Drug Trade
Link Diagram. In the Diagram, President Duterte revealed that
drug lords operating in Lanao Del Sur provided funds to the Maute
Group to carry out the Marawi City siege. Drug lords that President
Duterte identified were the following:

• A Filipino Chinese businessman whose daughter is married

to Johary Abinal (ex-husband of Johaira “Marimar” Abinal)
• FM Muslimen Macabatok

• Mayor Noron Dadayan (Buadiposo Buntong)

• Mayor Hadji Jamal Abdulsalam (Mulondo) Contrary to
the public
• Bonbola Radiamoda (Bayang, Lanao del Sur) knowledge of
• Ansari Saripada Radiamoda (Lilod, Madava, Marawi City) the incident,
• Vice Mayor Noridin Adiong (Ditsaan, Ramain) the Marawi City
• Rangaig Mamarinta (Provincial Board Member, 1st Siege was not
only an act of
District, Lanao del Sur) narcoterrorism.
• Parahiman Batawi Ronda (Samer, Butig) It was also the
• Acong Domato and Haj Taha Abdullah (Barangay Baropit, result of various
Picong) criminal acts
associated with
• Gona Romoros Aba Saguiran (Barangay Bubong, Saguiran, transnational
Novaliches, Quezon City)76 organized
Though the list of personalities above could be challenged
legally, President Duterte asserted that the diagram was a result of
intelligence work.77 Aside from the aforementioned list, President
Duterte also named 19 drug dealers known to be town and village
officials. The diagram also revealed:

All drug trade in LDS pass to former mayor Pre and

Solitario [through] barangay chairman Aliodin,
and Vice Mayor Arafat and brother[s] Samer and
Walid, respectively… Pre and Solitario authored
the kidnapping and liquidation of all drug lords…
Arrows indicate drug trade control relationship.78

Philippine National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also

affirmed the problem of narcoterrorism in the Philippines when he
exclaimed, “The proceeds of the narcotics are being used for these
terroristic activities.”79 During the ASEAN Defense Ministerial
Meeting (ADMM) in Clark Field, Pampanga in September 2017,
Secretary Lorenzana highlighted the problem of drugs and terrorism
needing strong regional cooperation to counter them.80
Contrary to the public knowledge of the incident, the Marawi
City siege was not only an act of narcoterrorism. It was also the
result of various criminal acts associated with transnational

LDS Drug Trade Linked Diagram

Source: President Rodrigo R Duterte, 22 September 2017


crimes.81 The Siege occurred not only because of the collective actions of most of the ISIS
followers in the Philippines but also because of the collective support of various criminal
syndicates engaged in drug trafficking, human smuggling, money laundering, and trafficking
of small arms and light weapons in the tri-border maritime areas of the Philippines, Malaysia
and Indonesia, particularly in the Sulu and Celebes/Sulawesi seas. Transnational organized
crimes provided the resilient support network of ISIS followers in the Philippines to mount
the Marawi City siege.
ISIS followers in the Philippines belong to another network in the country called ISIS
Philippines (ISISP) declared by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization on
27 February 2018.82 ISISP belongs to a unified organization called Daula Islamiya Wilayatul
Mashriq (DIWM), the so-called Islamic State Province in East Asia.
Based on the Tactical Interrogation Report of TJ Macabalang (one of the arrested
suspects in the Davao City bombing in September 2016), the organizational structure of
the group is shown in figure below. The overall Leader/Khalifa of DIWM or Daula Islamiya
(DI) for short was Isnilon Hapilon with the following sub groups in the different provinces
in Mindanao;

• Sulu; Basilan; (with unidentified leaders);

• Lanao under Abdullah Maute;
• Cotabato City under TJ Macabalang;
• Sarangani under Commander Tokboy of Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP); and,
• Daula Islamiya Maguindanao under Abu Turaipe who also founded a group called
Jamaatul Mujaheed Wal Ansar (JMWA)

Farhana Maute and Cayamura Maute (parents of Maute brothers) served the finance
and logistics officers. Mohammad Khayam Maute served as Intelligence and Operation
Followers also called the DIWM as Islamic State Philippines (ISP) in their various
messages in the Telegram. The DIWM or ISP had the following sub-leaders based on the
confession of TJ Macabalang:

• Abdul Azis Maute @MADIE, brother;

• Owayda/Humam Abdul Najid, founder of Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao (K.I.M.)
• Abdulrahman Maute @DAMAM/DAMDIE, brother;
• Ali Amintao @WHITE LAWAAN, former brigade Commander of MILF;
• @AFGHAN (TNU), former MILF sub-leader;

• @ABU SUMPA; former MILF sub-leader;

• Azzam Ampatua Taher @AZZAM;
• @ABU YAMAN/MARIPAGA, Imam of the group; and
• Fakhrudin Dilangalin @Abu Said, former leader of Cotabato based DI

LDS Drug Trade Linked Diagram

Source: Military Intelligence, March 2018

Because of the strong involvement of the entire Maute family in the establishment of
DIWM, the Philippine government inaccurately described the mastermind of Marawi City
siege as the Maute Group. In various reports, the Philippine government even described the
armed group responsible for the Marawi City siege as ISIS-Maute Group.
But the official name of the Maute Group was Daula Islamiya Fi Ranao (DIFR) or the
Islamic State of Lanao declared in September 2014 when the Maute Family pledged allegiance
to ISIS. Because of the participation of the entire Maute Family in the creation of the DIFR,
it signaled the rise of family terrorism in the Philippines.83

The DIFR served an integral part of the DIWM, which was

composed of 23 groups in the Philippines that pledged allegiance to The official name
of the Maute
ISIS. The ISIS Central, also known as Daesh, calls all followers of the Group was
DIWM as the Soldiers of the Caliphate in East Asia. These Soldiers Daula Islamiya
of the Caliphate have established support network from criminal Fi Ranao (DIFR)
organizations in Asia and other restive regions involved in money or the Islamic
State of Lanao.
laundering and trafficking of arms, humans and illegal drugs.

Maute Group: Rise of Family Terrorism in the Philippines

Source: Rommel C Banlaoi, “Maute Group and the Rise of Family Terrorism”, Rappler, 15 June 2017.

Armed Groups in Southeast Asia that Pledged Allegiance to the ISIS

Source: International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, November 2017

In the 10th issue of Rumiya, the official magazine of ISIS, the cover story was Jihad in
East Asia, referring to the Marawi City siege. This issue featured an interview with Isnilon
Hapilon described as the Amir of the Soldiers of the Khilafa in East Asia.84 In the interview,
the Rumiya magazine hailed Hapilon as Shaykh Abu Abdillah Al-Mujahir who described
President Duterte as head of “taghut” (anyone who is worshiped instead of Allah) of the
Philippines. In the same interview, Hapilon declared the Armed Forces of the Philippines
as “Crusader Filipino Army.” Hapilon also conveyed his “message to the world” that a Islamic
state “has been established” in East Asia with the siege of Marawi City under his leadership.85
But the military killed Hapilon on 16 October 2017 in a special operation in Marawi City.
Prior to his death, the magazine published several photos of Hapilon and his men
while the Marawi City siege was still going on. These photos indicated that Hapilon and his
men were directly in touch with ISIS Central, which provided operational instructions and
tactical orders to Hapilon. ISIS Central, on one hand, received photos and video footages of
Marawi City siege used by ISIS in its several propaganda materials during the entire duration
of the siege. Through these photos and video footages, ISIS was able to produce several

documentary films describing the Philippines

as the “new land of jihad” and asking jihadists
worldwide to make “hijra to Marawi.”86
This was the reason why several foreign
fighters from the Arab world, Asia and Africa
joined the Marawi City siege.87 Some hostages
rescued by the military confirmed the presence
of foreign fighters in Marawi City. Even the
Philippine military validated some reports of
foreign fighters during the siege.88
Interestingly, the 10th issue of Rumiya used
the attack on Resorts World Manila on 2 June 2017
as its cover photo. ISIS claimed responsibility for
the attack, though the Philippine government
vehemently denied any ISIS involvement in the
incident, which the Philippine police declared
as a mere robbery with arson. But the ISIS-run
Amaq News Agency insisted that their soldiers
of Caliphate in Manila planned the attack.89 ISIS
conversations in the Telegram stated that the 10th Issue of Rumiya Featuring
attack was carried out by ISIS lone wolf attacker, Marawi City Siege
Jessie Carlos Javier, whom they described as Source: Rumiya at https:// qb5cc3pam3y2ad0tm1z
Khair (Khair al Luzoni).90 The Philippine police
continued to rule out terrorism in the Resorts uploads/2017/08/Rumiyah-ISIS-magazine-10-issue.
World Manila attack.91

Hapilon and His

Men During the
Marawi City Siege

Source: Rumiya at https://


Meanwhile, ISIS Central regarded the Resorts World Manila attack and the Marawi City
siege as part of its worldwide plan to carry out several jihadist attacks during the month of
Ramadan in 2017. From its several claimed attacks from 26 May to 25 June 2017, ISIS listed
two major attacks in the Philippines: the Marawi City siege and the Resort World Manila attack.

ISIS-Claimed Attacks During the Ramadan of 2017

Source: Site Intelligence, June 2017


How could ISIS stage those attacks worldwide?

Apparently, ISIS was a well-funded terrorist organization. ISIS was a well-
funded terrorist
The Washington Institute described ISIS as the world’s best funded organization.
terrorist group that was richer than some small countries.92 ISIS The Washington
got its funds from extortion, robberies, smuggling, counterfeiting Institute
and racketeering. One of the major sources of its fund was drug described ISIS
as the world’s
trafficking. The RAND Corporation emphasized that ISIS was so best funded
desperate to fund its terrorist activities that it resorted to illegal drug terrorist group
trade to sustain itself.93 Thus, ISIS was involved in narcoterrorism that was richer
that even reached their Philippines followers who staged the Marawi than some small
City siege.
Despite the official acknowledgement of narcoterrorist threat
in Mindanao posed by the DIWM, the Philippine government,
unfortunately, has not yet released a single document to articulate a
national strategy to counter narcoterrorism in the country. Though Despite the
the Philippine government has the National Security Policy 2017- official acknowl-
edgement of
2022 and the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 containing narcoterrorist
discussions on the problems of drugs and terrorism in the Philippines, threat in Mind-
the government has not yet formulated a coherent strategy on how anao posed by
to counter the threat of narcoterrorism in the Philippines that the DIWM, the
Philippine gov-
integrates the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. ernment, unfor-
The Drugs Enforcement Group of the PNP has formulated a tunately, has not
National Drug Control Strategy that pursues demand reduction, yet released a
supply reduction, alternative development, regional and international single document
to articulate a
cooperation, and civic awareness and response. But this strategy national strat-
remains to be detached from the country’s national strategy against egy to counter
terrorism that ambiguously advances the concept of PEACE narcoterrorism
(Protect, Enforce, Advocate, Collaborate, Exercise). Based on the in the country.
so-called PEACE strategy, the ATC implements four core programs:
1) National Terrorism Prevention; 2) Capacity-Building; 3) Legal
and International Affairs; and, 4) Operational Readiness Assessment
and Compliance Monitoring.
In its National Security Strategy (NSS) 2018, the Duterte
Administration underscores the need to vigorously fight drugs and
terrorism as a result of the country’s bitter experience in the Marawi
City siege.94

National Drug Control Strategy

Source: Drug Enforcement Group, Philippine National Police, and March 2018

National Anti-Terrorism Strategy

Source: Anti-Terrorism Council, Program Management Center, December 2017


Programs of the Anti-Terrorism Council

Source: Anti-Terrorism Council, Program Management Center, December 2017

But the NSS still has no coherent discussion on how

In the aftermath
to harmonize the war on drugs and the war on terrorism in of the Marawi City
order to develop a more credible national strategy to counter siege, there is a
strong realization
narcoterrorism in the Philippines. In fact, the war on terror even that waging the
war on drugs
took the backseat momentarily as Duterte focused on the war on and the war on
drugs.95 In the aftermath of the Marawi City siege, there is a strong terrorism should
go in tandem.
realization that waging the war on drugs and the war on terrorism This calls for the
should go in tandem. This calls for the development of a strong development of
a strong national
national strategy against narcoterrorism in the Philippines. strategy against
narcoterrorism in
the Philippines.
Countering Narcoterrorism:
Policy Options & Alternatives
for the Duterte Government and Beyond

A year after the Marawi City siege, there is no doubt that combating drugs and terrorism
has been the flagship program of the Duterte government. Despite strong criticisms against
Duterte’s war on drugs due to allegations of human rights violations and extra-judicial
killings, the Third Quarter 2017 Pulse Asia Survey showed that 88% of Filipinos supported
Duterte’s war on drugs. The September 2017 Pew Research Center survey, on the other
hand, said that 78% of Filipinos supported Duterte’s handling of illegal drugs issue while
62% of Filipinos said that the Philippine government was making progress in its anti-drugs
However, the Duterte government’s accomplishments on the war on drugs have not
been effectively synchronized with its war on terrorism. In countering narcoterrorism, there
is still the lack of operational clarity on whether it is pursued under the war on drugs or
under the war on terrorism.
In the war on drugs, the PDEA is the lead government agency in charge of implementing
the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs as directed by President Duterte
on 10 October 2017. The President also issued Memorandum Order Number 17 on 5
December 2017 directing the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine
Postal Corporation (PCC) “to resume in providing active support to the PDEA in the conduct
of anti-illegal drug operations.” This Order supplements the Executive Order Number 15
issued on 6 March 2017 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD)
and National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (NAID-TF) “to harness the entire bureaucracy to
assist in the implementation of anti-illegal drugs campaign.” Despite this arrangement, the
Duterte government has not yet clarified on how to counter narcoterrorism in the context of
its war on drugs.
Apparently, the war on drugs only pays attention to the narcotics aspects of
narcoterrorism. It is presumed that the terrorism aspect of narcoterrorism is waged under
the government’s war on terrorism led by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as the highest
policy-making body in the area of counter-terrorism.

Accomplishments on the War on Drugs

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, The Duterte Administration Year-End Report:
2017 Key Accomplishments (Manila: Malacanang Palace, December 2017).

There is, however, a need to understand that drug trafficking organizations and terrorist
groups operate differently despite their increasing collaboration. This presents tremendous
challenge for counter measures.
Legally, organizations accused of drug trafficking and groups accused of acts of terrorism
are tried differently under existing Philippine laws. The Philippines does not have a law
to convict groups or individuals for specifically the specific act of narcoterrorism. These
groups or individuals are either charged of violating illegal drugs laws or anti-terrorism laws.
Even for acts of terrorism, law enforcement authorities avoid using anti-terrorism laws
for suspects. Philippine law enforcement authorities prefer to use the revised penal code
to convict persons for acts of terrorism because they find the Human Security Act (HSA) of
2007, the Philippines’ anti-terrorism law, as difficult to implement due to many human rights
provisions. Thus, there is a move to amend or scrap the HSA to replace it with a tougher anti-
terrorism law. There is also a proposal to enact another anti-terrorism law that is more useful
for law enforcement in order to balance the human rights provisions of the HSA.

Given the aforementioned global lessons learned in combating

But there is
narcoterrorism and the current state of narcoterrorism in the
a growing
Philippines, what are the policy options and alternatives for the agreement
Duterte government and beyond? among scholars,
For purposes of law enforcement, the Philippine government experts and
can counter narcoterrorism by strengthening Philippine laws on
that to address
the financing of terrorism. In the Philippine case, terrorist groups the threat of
venture into illegal drugs operations to finance acts of terrorism. narcoterrorism,
Thus, it is in the area of countering the financing of terrorism that there is
the strong
the Philippine government can combat narcoterrorism. If groups
and individuals engage both in illegal drug operations and acts of to transcend
terrorism, the Philippine government can use applicable Philippine the law
laws. But available Philippine laws do not provide strong penalties enforcement-
heavy approach.
against narcoterrorism. The Philippine government can enact a
There is the
new anti-terrorism law that can encompass narcoterrorism and the urgency to adopt
financing of terrorism. a more proactive
For several decades, however, fighting terrorism and drugs measure that
has largely been entrusted to law enforcement authorities. Many
prevention and
governments, particularly in Europe and the Americas, have rehabilitation
encouraged strong international police cooperation in order to against
counter the menace of terrorism and drugs.97 International policing narcoterrorism.
is “often invoked as the inevitable answer to global threats such as
terrorism and drug trafficking.”98
But there is a growing agreement among scholars, experts and
practitioners that to address the threat of narcoterrorism, there is
the strong imperative to transcend the law enforcement-heavy
approach. There is the urgency to adopt a more proactive measure
that privileges prevention and rehabilitation against narcoterrorism.
In 2016, the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, an independent
international charitable organization, published the second edition
of The Alternative World Drug Report.99 This Report laments that for
the past 50 years, the approach adopted by many countries to fight
illegal drugs has not been changed. The dominant approach against
illegal drugs has been law enforcement heavy that is “predicated
upon policy and military enforcement against producers, suppliers
and users – a war on drugs in popular discourse.”100

While law enforcement is important to address the criminal

Based on aspects and implications of illegal drug use, there is now “a growing
experiences of
demand for a more balanced and comprehensive evaluation of the
some countries, wider impacts of current drug law enforcement strategies, and also for
those that evidence-based exploration of possible alternative approaches.”101 From
privilege the
hard approach this Report, the Duterte government may consider the following
(war on drugs, options and alternatives in the war on drugs:
against drug
addicts, drug- • Fighting the war on drugs with increased ferocity –
free society) through increasing the level of resources for enforcement
have led to the and handing down harsher punishments – with the aim of
criminalization, significantly reducing or eliminating drug use;
marginalization • Incremental reforms to enforcement and public health and
treatment interventions (within the existing prohibitionist
of people using legal framework) to improve policy outcomes. Adequate
drugs but not investment in evidence-based prevention, treatment and
harming others.
harm reduction should form a key pillar of drug policy
under any legal framework. However, current enforcement
approaches can undermine, rather than support, effective
health interventions. Reforms to enforcement practices
can also target some of the most harmful elements of the
criminal market to reduce key crime costs, such as violence,
from their current levels;
• A reorientation to a health-based approach and
decriminalization of personal possession and use (civil
or administrative sanctions only). Evidence suggests that
if implemented intelligently, as part of a wider health
reorientation, decriminalization can deliver criminal
justice savings, and positive outcomes on a range of health
indicators, without increasing drug use; and,
• The legal regulation of drug markets offers the potential
to dramatically reduce the costs associated with the illegal
trade outlined in this report, but requires negotiating
the obstacle of the inflexible UN drug conventions, and
managing the risks of over-commercialization. Drawing
on experiences from alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical
regulation, increasingly sophisticated models have now

been proposed for regulating different aspects of the market – such as production,
vendors, outlets, marketing and promotion, and availability – for a range of products
in different environments.102

Based on important experiences of some countries, those that privilege the hard
approach (war on drugs, crackdown against drug addicts, drug-free society) have led to the
unnecessary criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people using drugs but
not harming others. This kind of approach, unfortunately, has enormously failed worldwide
based on scientific studies made by global experts.
According to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, “The global war on drugs has
failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”103 It
argues, “Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers,
traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or
While some drug addicts are indeed engaged in crimes and terrorism, not all users are
criminals and terrorists. In most countries, using illegal drugs is a crime. But not all users
are criminals.
Illegal drug users engaged in violent crimes and terrorism should be given punitive law
enforcement actions (hard approach). But illegal users who are not harming others must
be treated as patients needing careful medical attention (soft approach). These users must
receive appropriate health and treatment services and not punitive and law enforcement
Treating illegal drug users as patients rather than criminals is considered a more humane
and effective approach to address the problem of illegal drug use. China, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Switzerland, and UK provide exemplary practices on how to address illegal drug
problem through public health interventions by creating more treatment facilities and
rehabilitation centers for illegal drug users. But illegal drug users involved in crimes and
terrorism must receive the full force of the law.
Findings from solid scientific studies of experts indicate that countries that have pursued
harsh actions against drug addicts, dealers, and traffickers and have implemented massive
arrest and detention of drug offenders have continued to suffer higher levels of illegal drug
use and its concomitant social problems than countries that have adopted a more tolerant,
humane and softer actions.105
While the hard approach is undoubtedly essential to fight violence and terrorism
associated with illegal drug use, the Duterte government should diligently isolate users
who are not harming others. These users need a soft approach that requires treatment,
rehabilitation and care.

In the fight against terrorism, many experts in the field have

While the hard also recommended terrorist rehabilitation. Usually implemented
approach is
in prison, terrorist rehabilitation puts individuals in a therapy
essential to session that involves other related “cleansing” processes of trust
fight violence building, psychological counseling, religious dialogue, community
and terrorism
associated with involvement, and after care programs such as family support and
illegal drug use, post-rehabilitation employment. Existing literature indicates that
the Duterte terrorist rehabilitation is an essential program for another process of
should counter-terrorism called deradicalization.106
diligently There is a tendency to define deradicalization as a reverse
isolate users process of radicalization, which is broadly understood as “the process
who are not
harming of adopting an extremist belief system, including the willingness to
others. These use, support, or facilitate violence, as a method to effect societal
users need a
soft approach
change.”107 With this definition of radicalization, deradicalization
that requires is defined, on the other hand, as “the process of abandoning an
treatment, extremist worldview and concluding that it is not acceptable to use
and care. violence to effect social change.”108
In other words, deradicalization is a process that aims to remove
the ideological sources of violent extremism. Thus, this process is also
associated with preventing violent extremism (PVE) and countering
violent extremism (CVE). Deradicalization, PVE and CVE are all
interrelated processes that intend to lead an individual or group
to change extreme ideas and attitudes about violence- particularly
about the use of violence against civilians.109
While deradicalization appears to be focusing more on the
ideological approach, it also pays attention to behavioral approach.
Ideological deradicalization results from a change in belief while
behavioral deradicalization emphasizes a change in attitude, behavior
and action.110
Deradicalization is not synonymous with counter-
radicalization, which attempts “to dissuade individuals at risk of
radicalization – usually young people.”111 Deradicalization aims to
convince already radical individuals to abandon their radical beliefs
and leave the use of violence behind. Counter-radicalization aims to
prevent individuals from exposure to radical ideas that glorify acts
of violence.

Finally, deradicalization is sometimes being confused with

the concept of disengagement. If deradicalization entails the In order to
defeat terrorism
abandonment of radical ideas that endorse violence, disengagement from its roots,
refers to decision of individuals to leave the use of violence behind or there has been
to get out of groups or movements engaged in violent acts. While a call “to go
deradicalization may lead to disengagement, disengagement does beyond security
and intelligence
not necessarily lead to deradicalization. Individuals could be measures,
described as disengaged, but could not be automatically regarded as taking proactive
de-radicalized.112 There are disengaged individuals who retain their measures
radical ideas while opting to traverse the path of peace. to prevent
Deradicalization has been regarded as an important soft individuals from
approach to counter terrorist threats.113 This is based on the radicalizing and
premise that military and police approaches cannot completely rehabilitating
defeat terrorism, particularly if threats are emanating from Islamist those who
have already
extremist. In order to defeat terrorism from its roots, there has embraced
been a call “to go beyond security and intelligence measures, extremism.
taking proactive measures to prevent vulnerable individuals from
radicalizing and rehabilitating those who have already embraced
extremism.”114 This soft proactive measure of deradicalization has
been implemented in Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia,
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, and Yemen,
among others. The Philippines can learn a lot of great lessons from
the exemplary practices of these countries.115
In other words, countering narcoterrorism requires the
harmonious implementation of the war on drugs and the war on
terrorism, which cannot be completely defeated through usual
military and police measures.
While law enforcement is indeed very important in countering
the violent and criminal aspects of narcoterrorism, addressing this
threat also needs measures beyond the coercive power of the state.
These measures include more humane soft approaches to balance the
more coercive hard approaches. As previously stressed, rehabilitation
of illegal drug users and terrorists can offer socially acceptable
alternatives and more humane ways to counter narcoterrorism.

Illegal drug use is a global menace. Its nexus with terrorism further exacerbates the
problem it causes to citizens of the world. Narcoterrorism has become a security problem
that if not quickly abated can undermine world peace and stability. Thus, many countries
have adopted various measures to counter the virulent threat of narcoterrorism.
The Philippines is not spared from narcoterrorism. President Duterte has recognized
the gravity of this problem. From a war on drugs, the Duterte government has launched a
war against drugs and terrorism. The Marawi City siege provided the current government a
strong justification to pursue this two-pronged war.
A war against narcoterrorism undeniably warrants a hard approach that needs strong
law enforcement actions.
But not all users are engaged in crime and terrorism. This type of users needs a soft
approach that privileges humane treatment, rehabilitation and care.
Based on the aforementioned global lessons learned and solid scientific findings of
experts, the Duterte government and his successor must adopt a more humane strategy
against terrorism and illegal drugs that applies both hard and soft approaches. In the fight
against illegal drugs, The Alternative World Drug Report offers policy options and alternatives
that the Duterte government should seriously consider. In the fight against terrorism, the
Duterte government and his successor can also pay serious attention to preventing violent
extremism through the process of deradicalization, counter-radicalization, disengagement,
and terrorist rehabilitation. The Philippine government can legislate the adoption of this
approach to ensure national budgetary allocation.
Countering narcoterrorism is not a job for the slothful. The government needs a deeper
understanding of this threat in order to muster a strong political will to counter it.
Sadly, policy makers are slow to appreciate and too incremental to act on the threat
posed by the rapid transformation of groups and individuals operating in the complex
nexus of crimes and terrorism where narcoterrorism finds itself. Unless the government
learns how to innovate faster and smarter in its policy and actions, threat groups involved in
narcoterrorism will evolve into more perilous forms that will be harder to defeat.

*Original version of this study was originally 8. Libby Goodell, “Narcoterrorism: The
submitted to the then Director of the now defunct Anti- Growing Threat in Latin America”, Winter
Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) of the Philippine National 2014 <
Police in September 2016. It has been updated to cover the handle/11021/27299/RG38_Goodell_LACS_2014.
most current developments. An abridged version of this pdf?sequence=1>.
study has appeared in Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Threats of 9. Emma Björnehed, “Narco-Terrorism: The Merger
Narcoterrorism in the Philippines,” Rappler, 23 September of the War on Drugs and the War on Terror”, Global
2017. Crime, Volume 6, Number 3&4 (August-November
2004), pp. 306-308.
INTRODUCTION 10. Christine Myers, Insurgency, Terrorism and
TERRORISM, DRUGS, AND THE Drug Trade (Herzliya: International Institute for
Counter-Terrorism, 31 October 2013). Also see
Sara A. Carter, “Terrorists Teaming with Drug
1. President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Inaugural Speech on
Cartels,” The Washington Times (8 August 2007).
30 June 2016.
11. Rex A. Hudson, Laverle Berry, Glenn E. Curtis, Rex
2. President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Speech delivered at
A. Hudson and Nina A. Kollars, A Global Overview
the ASEAN Convention Center, Fontana, Clark,
of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist
Pampanga, 7 December 2017.
Groups (A Report Prepared by the Federal Research
3. For an initial analysis, see Rommel C. Banlaoi,
Division, Library of Congress under an Interagency
“Duterte’s Challenges: Terror, Crime and the Abu
Agreement with the Department of Defense, May
Sayyaf,” Rappler, 13 May 2016.
4. Also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the
12. Cited in Benoit Gomis, “Demystifying
Levant (ISIL). The Arabs call it Daesh, an Arabic
Narcoterrorism”, Policy Brief, Number 9 (Global
acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-
Drug Policy Observatory, May 2015).
Sham”, known to its members as the Islamic State
13. Brian Dodd, “The Nexus Between Drugs and
(IS) or the Islamic Caliphate.
Terrorism” (A PowerPoint presentation, 2010), <
5. Office of the President, 2017-2022 National Security
Policy for Change and Well-Being of the Filipino
People (Manila: Malacanang Palace, 2017).
14. Vanda Felbab-Brown, “A Better Strategy Against
Narcoterrorism” (MIT Center for International
WHAT IS NARCOTERRORISM? Studies, January 2006).
15. Jonas Hartelus, “Narcoterrorism” (Policy Paper for
6. Emma Bjornehed, “Narcoterrorism: The Merger of the East West Institute and the Swedish Carnegie
the War on Drugs and the War on Terror,” Global Institute, February 2008).
Crime, Volume 6, Numbers 3-4 (August-November 16. See for example the work of Joint Counter-
2004), p. 306. Narcoterrorism Task Force of the State of Arizona,
7. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Narcoterrorism. New York: Basic United States <
Book, 1990. force-arizona/joint-counter-narcotics-task-force>.

NARCOTERRORISM: GLOBAL SITUATION eds., Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Issues,

Challenges and Framework for Action (Singapore:
17. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, World Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2013). Also
Drug Report 2017, Booklet 2 - Global Overview of see Andrew T.H. Tan and J.D. Kenneth Boutin,
Drug Demand and Supply: Latest Trends, Cross- eds., Non-Traditional Security Issues in Southeast
Cutting Issues (Vienna: UNODC Division for Asia (Singapore: Institute of Defense and Strategic
Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, May 2017), p. 4. Studies, 2001).
18. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, World 30. Mark A.R. Kleiman, Illicit Drugs and the Terrorist
Drug Report 2016 (Vienna: UNODC Division for Threat: Causal Links and Implications for Domestic
Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, May 2016), p. Drug Control Policy (CRS Report for Congress, 20
63. April 2004), pp. 1-2.
19. Ibid., p. 97. 31. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, “The
20. Ibid. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and
21. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, World Terrorism Prevention”, September 2016 < https://
Drug Report 2017: Booklet 5, The Drug Problem>.
and Organized Crime, Illicit Financial Flow, 32. Institute for Economics and Peace, Global
Corruption and Terrorism (Vienna: UNODC Terrorism Index 2015 (New York and Sidney: IEP,
Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, 2015), p. 56.
May 2017), pp. 10-11. 33. Institute for Economics and Peace, Global
22. Ibid. p. 35. Terrorism Index 2016 (New York and Sidney: IEP,
23. Ibid., p. 11. 2016).
24. Ibid., p. 40. 34. To get more information about the Vision of
25. Cited in V. Asal, H. Brinton Milward and Eric Humanity and its activities, see its homepage at
W. Schoon, “When terrorists go bad: analyzing .
terrorist organizations’ involvement in drug 35. Institute for Economics and Peace, Global
smuggling”, International Studies Quarterly, Terrorism Index 2017 (New York and Sidney: IEP,
Volume 59, Number 1 (2015), pp. 112-123. 2017), p. 10.
26. Ibid. 36. Ibid., p. 100.
27. Rex A. Hudson, Laverle Berry, Glenn E. Curtis, Rex 37. Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering
A. Hudson and Nina A. Kollars, A Global Overview Violent Extremism, Country Reports on Terrorism
of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist 2016 (Washington DC: US Department of State
Groups (A Report Prepared by the Federal Research Publications, July 2017).
Division, Library of Congress under an Interagency 38. Ibid., p. 296.
Agreement with the Department of Defense, May
28. For additional discussions, see United Nations COUNTERING NARCOTERRORISM:
Office on Drugs and Crime, “Drug trafficking
trends & border management in South-East Asia:
39. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs
Responding to an evolving context of regional
and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
integration” (CNN Intercessional: Interactive
40. World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna,
Lunch time discussion, Vienna, 19 November
Austria, 14-25 June 1993.
2014) <
41. United Nations Declaration on the 49th Session of
the UN General Assembly, 2005.
42. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, World
Drug Report 2016 (Vienna: UNODC Division for
29. Mely Caballero-Anthony and Alistair D.B. Cook,

Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, May 2016), p. of the US War on Drugs in Columbia, January 2013
xxiii. <
43. Suhaib Kebhaj, Nima Shahidinia, Alexander Testa war_delegation_report_02.pdf>.
and Justin Williams, “Collateral Damage and the 57. Latin America Working Group, “The Human
War on Drugs: Estimating the Effects of Zero Rights Costs during Plan Columbia”, February 2016
Tolerance Policies on Drug Arrest Rates, 1975- <
2002”, The Public Purpose, Volume 11 (2013), p. 1. Rights_Costs_during_Plan_Colombia.pdf >
44. Ibid, p. 4. 58. Cynthia McClintock, “The War on Drugs: The
45. Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Peruvian Case”, Journal of Inter-American Studies
(June 2011), p. 1. and World Affairs, Volume 30, Numbers 2/3,
46. David A. Haupt, Narcoterrorism: An Increasing Special Issue: Assessing the Americas’ War on
Threat of US National Security (Master’s Thesis: Drugs (Summer - Autumn, 1988), pp. 127-142.
Joint Forces Staff College, 6 December 2009). 59. Kelly Hearn, “Success in Colombia shifts drug war
47. Peter Reuter and Alex Stevens, An Analysis of UK to Peru”, The Washington Times (7 May 2012).
Drug Policy: A Monograph Prepared for the UK 60. Yasser Gomez, “Militarization and the War on
Drug Commission (London: UK Drug Policy Drugs in Peru”, 28 October 2008 < https://www.tni.
Commission, 2007), p. 8. org/es/node/4561>.
48. T. Millar, A. Jones, M. Donmall, and M. Roxburgh, 61. Neil Pyper, “How Peru’s drug trade is threatening its
M., Changes in offending following prescribing economic growth”, The Conversation, 29 July 2015
treatment for drug misuse National Treatment <
Agency for Substance Misuse, 2008 <http://www. trade-is-threatening-its-economic-growth-45018>. 62. “Thailand’s ‘war on drugs’ International Harm
rb35.pd>. Reduction Association and Human Rights Watch
49. Aaron Akenyemi, “UK and US Target al-Qaida briefing paper “, 12 March 2008 < https://www.hrw.
‘Narco-Terrorism’ Drug Routes in West Africa”, org/news/2008/03/12/thailands-war-drugs>.
International Business Times, 6 July 2014 < http:// 63. Gardner S. Third, “History Lesson: Bloody drug war failed in the long run,” July 2016 < https://
50. Niklas Swanstrom and Yin He, China’s war on war-failed-long-run.html>.
Narcotics: Two Perspectives (Washington DC: 64. Figures cited in “Thailand battles to contain rising
Central Asia-Caucacus Institute, 2006). drug use”, The Nation, 27 June 2015 < http://www.
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid. to-contain-RISING-DRUG-USE-30263250.html>.
53. Sheldon X, Zhang and Ko-lin Chin, “A People’s
War: China’s Struggle to Contain its Illicit Drug
Problem”, Foreign Policy at Brookings, 7 June MARAWI CITY SIEGE AND ITS AFTERMATH:
54. Xiaobo Su, “China’s Antidrug Policies in Southeast 65. “Illicit drugs and peace: Challenges for the
Asia’s Golden Triangle”, Asia Pacific Bullettin, bangsamoro peace process”, International Alert
Number 234 (23 September 2013). Policy Brief, April 2014.
55. “China Links Terrorism and Drugs in War on 66. Ibid.
Uyghur Groups”, Radio Free Asia, 29 July 2004 67. See Rommel C. Banlaoi, Al-Harakatul Al-
< Islamiyyah: Essays on the Abu Sayyaf Group, 3rd
20040729.html>. Edition (Quezon City: Philippine Institute for
56. Witness for Peace Delegation, Report on the Impact Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, 2012).

68. Rex A. Hudson, Laverle Berry, Glenn E. Curtis, Rex in East Asia”, Rumiya, Issue 10, Ramadan 1438.
A. Hudson and Nina A. Kollars, A Global Overview 85. Ibid., p. 41.
of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist 86. “ ‘Burn them in their homes’: What IS’ new
Groups (A Report Prepared by the Federal Research propaganda video reveals about their changing
Division, Library of Congress under an Interagency strategy,” The New Arab, 10 August 2017.
Agreement with the Department of Defense, May 87. For more discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi,
2002). “The Role of Foreign Terrorist Fighters during the
69. Joseph Hincks, “A Bloody Drug War and an ISIS- Marawi City Siege,” (Lecture delivered at the Border
Linked City Siege Mark Duterte’s First Year in Control Officers Module I Class 18 organized by
Office”, Times 30 June 2017. the Bureau of Immigration Center for Training and
70. Alexis Romero, “Link Between Marawi Siege, Drugs Research of the Philippine Immigration Academy
Confirmed”, The Philippine Star, 25 June 2017. held in Clark, Pampanga on 16 April 2017).
71. Ibid. 88. “Marawi City siege shows foreign fighters being
72. Ibid. drawn to the Philippines as ISIS’ Asian hub,” Strait
73. Amanda Lingao, “Duterte: Terrorism in PH Funded Times, 30 May 2017.
by Drug Money,” CNN Philippines, 13 June 2017. 89. “ISIS claims Manila casino attack despite police
74. “Secretary Ernesto Abella, Press Statement read denial,” CNN, 2 June 2017.
during the Press Conference on 24 September 2017. 90. “ISIS sanctioned if not directed Resorts World
75. “44 Narco execs Fund Marawi Siege,” Manila attack,” Rappler, 2 June 2017.
Bulletin, 24 September 2017. 91. “PNP rules out terrorism as gunman found to be
76. Mick Basa, “Duterte’s new matrix links Maute ex-DOF employee”, The Philippine Star, 4 June
Group to drugs,” Rappler, 24 September 2017. 2017.
77. Catherine Valente, “‘Matrix’ tags drug lords, 92. For a very good graph on how ISIS funds itself, see
politicians in Marawi siege,” The Manila Times, 24 “Funding ISIS”, Washington Institute https://www.
September 2017.
78. Ibid. infographics/Islamic-State-of-Iraq-and-al-Sham-
79. Amanda Lingao, “Duterte: Terrorism in PH Funded ISIS-Funding.pdf <accessed on 29 March 2018>.
by Drug Money,” CNN Philippines, 13 June 2017. 93. Colin P. Clarke, “ISIS is so desperate it’s turning to
80. Jaime Laude, “Terrorism, drugs top defense chief ’s the drug trade,” RAND, 25 July 2017.
meeting agenda,” The Philippine Star, 29 September 94. National Security Strategy 2018 (Manila: National
2017. Security Council, draft as of 12 February 2018).
81. For more discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, “ 95. Jason Gutierrez, “War on Terror Took Backseat as
“Marawi City Siege and the Nexus of Transnational Duterte Focused on Drug War, Analysts”, Philippine
Crimes and Terrorism in Southeast Asia: Current Daily Inquirer, 30 June 2017.
Threat Assessment and ASEAN Response” (Lecture
delivered at the International Law Forum on the
Philippine Response to Terrorism: Perspectives COUNTERING NARCOTERRORISM: POLICY
and Strategic Actions organized by College of Law, OPTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES FOR THE DUTERTE
University of the Philippines on 5 April 2017).
82. US State Department, “State Department Terrorist
96. Presidential Communications Operations Office,
Designations of ISIS Affiliates and Senior Leaders”,
The Duterte Administration Year-End Report:
27 February 2018 at
2017 Key Accomplishments (Manila: Malacanang
Palace, December 2017).
83. Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Maute Group and the Rise of
97. Jorg Friedrichs, Fighting Terrorism and Drugs:
Family Terrorism”, Rappler, 15 June 2017.
Europe and International Police Cooperation.
84. “Interview with Amir of the Soldiers of the Khilafa
London and New York: Routledge, 2008. 115. See Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Counterterrorism
98. Ibid., p. 1. Measures and Deradicalization Efforts in Southeast
99. The Alternative World Drug Report, 2nd edition Asia: A View from the Philippines” in Henning
(Transform Drug Policy Foundation, 2016). Glaser, ed., Talking to the Enemy: Deradicalization
100. Ibid. p. 10 And Disengagements of Terrorists (Berlin: Nomos
101. Ibid. Verlagsges.MBH + Company, 2017), pp. 91-104.
102. Ibid., pp. 15-16.
103. Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy
(June 2011), p. 2.
104. Ibid.
105. Ibid., p. 10.
106. See Richard Barrett and Laila Bokhari,
“Deradicalization and Rehabilitation Programmes
Targetin Religious Terrorists and Extremists in the
Muslim World: An Overview” in Tore Bjorgo and
John Horgan (eds), Leaving Terrorism Behind:
Individual and Collective Disengagement (London
and New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 170-180.
107. Charles E. Allen, “Threat of Islamic Radicalization
to the Homeland” (Written testimony to the US
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and
Government Affairs, Washington DC, 14 March
2007), p. 4.
108. Ibid., pp. 1-2.
109. Omar Ashour, “Lions Tamed: An Inquiry Into
the Causes of Deradicalization of Armed Islamist
Movements: The Case of the Egyptian Islamic
Groups”, The Middle East Journal, Volume 61,
Number 4 (Autumn, 2007), pp. 596-624.
110. Ibid.
111. Angel Rabasa, Stacie Pettyjohn, Jeremy Ghez
and Christopher Boucek, Deradicalizing Islamist
Extremists (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2010), pp.
112. John Horgan, “Individual Disengagement: A
Psychological Analysis” in Bjorgo and Horgan, p.
113. For more discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi,
Deradicalization Efforts in the Philippines:
Options for Disengagement Strategy (Quezon
City: Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and
Terrorism Research, 2013).
114. Angel Rabasa, Stacie Pettyjohn, Jeremy Ghez
and Christopher Boucek, Deradicalizing Islamist
Extremists (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2010), p.

Dr. Rommel C. Banlaoi is the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and
Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) and the President of the Center for Intelligence and National Security
Studies (CINSS). He is currently a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of International Studies of
Miriam College and a Faculty Member of the ABS-CBN University’s Journalism Academy where he
facilitates a course on Conflict Journalism.
He provides advisory services to the current Director of the Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) of
the Philippine National Police (PNP).
While performing his work in the academe where he enjoys more than 25 years of experiences,
Dr. Banlaoi has also served as a civilian consultant of the Director of the now defunct Anti-Illegal
Drugs Group (AIDG) of PNP under the Duterte Administration. He became a member of the
Advisory Council of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the PNP during
the Aquino III administration. He briefly worked at the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) of the
Department of National Defense (DND) during the Estrada Administration and at the Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs (ASPP) of the DND during the Arroyo Administration
during his stint as Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the National Defense
College of the Philippines (NDCP) where he also served as Vice President. He was a Non-Resident
Fellow of the Center for Global Counterterrorism Cooperation (CGC) based in New York City and
a Chairperson of the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR) supported by the Institute for
Defense Analysis (IDA) based in Washington DC. He participated in the Comprehensive Security
Responses to Terrorism (CSRT) Course 09-2 by the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies based in
Honolulu, Hawaii where he also finished his Executive Course on Security Studies.
The author earned his PhD in International Relations at Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
and he finished his BA and MA in Political Science at the University of the Philippines where he also
worked on his PhD in Political Science (ABD status). He is the author some books, several journal
articles and book chapters including his terrorism trilogy: Philippine Security in the Age of Terror
(CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, 2010), Counter-Terrorism Measures in Southeast Asia: How Effective
Are They? (Manila: Yuchengco Center, 2009), and War on Terrorism in Southeast (Quezon City: Rex
Book Store, 2004), among others. Dr. Banlaoi is happily married to Grace Quilitorio Banlaoi. They
are blessed with three children: Rome Melchizedek (Zed), Ronaiah Gail (Zoe), and Rommel Gian

The Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) is an independent,
non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental research-oriented organization. It is officially registered
at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 29 November 2007 originally as Philippine
Institute for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. It was first conceptualized on 11 September
2005 by Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza with the support of Bert Ferro and a group of security experts,
academics and practitioners who saw the urgent need to establish a center in the Philippines dedicated
to the study of political violence and terrorism and their implications for peace and security.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, the founding Chairman of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism
Council (ATC), officially launched the PIPVTR through then Undersecretary Ricardo Blacaflor on 6
March 2008 at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila on the occasion of Protect 2008. Ermita described
the PIPVTR as the country’s “pioneering think tank on terrorism research and studies”. PIPVTR
became a member of the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR), a research partner of the
International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), and an institutional
friend of the Southeast Asian Research Center for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT).
TERRORISM RESEARCH in order to bring peace studies into political violence and terrorism
research. SEC approved this new name on 10 August 2010. PIPVTR launched its new name on 11
September 2010 and became an active member of the peace-building community in the Philippines.
To broaden the research agenda of the Institute in the light of post-9/11 security challenges
that have tremendous impacts on peace, violence and terrorism issues, it establishes the Center for
Intelligence and National Security Studies (CINSS) as its vital research partner.
With the support of CINSS, PIPVTR has organized various events on issues related to terrorism,
South China Sea disputes, Mindanao conflict, and Philippine security relations with other countries.
PIPVTR has also published most of its research works in international and local publications as well
as international and local academic journals. PIPVTR has also provided donor-confidential risks and
threat assessment reports to private firms and international donor agencies.
Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research

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