Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that it will not allow the Philippines to become an emerging base for international terror group ISIS which is in danger of losing all the territory it once held in the Middle East.
"We should undertake measures to prevent that from happening," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.
Panelo expressed concern over the report by the New York Times that the ISIS has "attracted a range of militant jihadists" in Mindanao, where Marawi City is located, the site of a five-month gun battle between ISIS sympathizers and troops in 2017.
The report said the defeat of ISIS sympathizers led by the Maute rebels in Marawi "apparently has not deterred its loyalists from regrouping."
The United States, meanwhile, had said that ISIS has lost nearly all of its territory in Iraq and Syria due to continued offensives from American-backed forces.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech in Maguindanao on February 11, vowed to dedicate the remaining three years of his administration to attaining lasting peace in Mindanao.
He then urged Maguindanaons to join the government in its efforts to crush the ISIS.
"You will have to fight the ISIS. They would create hell for us. We are not here talking to destroy the future and our family," Duterte said.
"We are here planning for what we can do to them so that by the time they are the father[s] and mothers of the community, they would know what to do and make it more comfortable for our children,” he said. — RSJ, GMA News