Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
President Duterte claimed on Wednesday that the extremist Islamic State group would creep into Southeast Asia to establish a four-nation caliphate in the region.
The president said the violent Islamic armed group might retreat to Southeast Asia if they were flushed out of Iraq and Syria, a distance of more than 8,000 kilometers.
“This is our problem now. The ISIS, these extremists, are fighting it out in Aleppo and Mosul. Once they run out of land base, they would retreat to the sea and escape,” the Chief Executive stated while addressing a gathering of urban poor residents in the Mandaluyong City.
“They have this dream of a caliphate kingdom that would be comprised of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei,” he added.
Duterte did not offer evidence for his claims, and he is known to have made outrageous statements in the past, but he raised the IS threat on the day The Jakarta Post reported the warning issued by the Indonesian Military (TNI) that the Islamic State (IS) group has been working to create a fully pledged wilayat (province) in the southern Philippines that would pose a serious security threat to Indonesia.
The report quoted TNI Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo as saying last Tuesday that the IS has been losing ground in Iraq and Syria to internationally backed anti-IS forces and has started building its base in Mindanao, which shares its borders with Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
The president reiterated the importance of having a federal government in securing peace in Mindanao.
“Believe me. It’s up to you. I leave it to the people to decide. If the federal system would not be approved, you might as well give up Mindanao. We will not have peace,” he said.
“Hence, if others are resistant to the idea of a federal setup, without that federalism, the Moro people will never agree to anything else,” he added.
The president also urged the public to be prepared for possible terror attacks in the country.
“The next adventure that I will embark on is terrorism. Be prepared for that. That’s what I fear most, including this problem on illegal drugs,” he said.