By Imee Charlee C. Delavin, Reporter

Government’s goal to lessen terrorism incidents -- Valte

Posted on November 22, 2014

AS THE PHILIPPINES’ rating among the countries most affected by terrorism went up in the annual Global Terrorism Index report, Malacañang yesterday reaffirmed its fight against terrorism in the country.

“We’d like to see more of the details of the report, but certainly, at the end of the day, our goal really is to lessen these incidents because you are looking at the safety also of the people,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail dlF. Valte told a press briefing Friday.

“We’d like to see what those incidents are and compare it with the data that our law enforcement agencies have. But certainly, I think everyone is unified in the goal that we want to lessen these incidents,” she added.

On the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Ms. Valte said the country “has been coordinating and cooperating with our neighbors just to make sure that the Philippines will remain free from any ISIS recruitment.”

“Yesterday, we were asked about some information that a Filipino was involved in the beheading of some Syrians in the most recent ISIS video. The military is endeavoring to check the veracity of that particular video, but so far, we still do not have any confirmation of the nationality of that person,” she said.

“We will continue to push for that. You have seen the administration’s resolve in trying to reach a just and lasting peace for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao through the Bangsamoro agreement. And perhaps to us, we will remain undeterred in our efforts to continue to push for that,” she added.

The global index said terrorism activities in the Philippines have doubled in 2013. This ranks the country at 9th place among states that are “most at risk of becoming less peaceful.” The Philippines ranked 10th in 2012.

At the top of the 2013 list are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, and Thailand.

Terrorism increased “significantly” in the Philippines between 2012 and 2013, with almost twice as many incidents recorded at 499 and the number of deaths more than doubled from 122 to 292, said the Institute for Economics and Peace, the international think tank which prepared the study.

“Terrorism in the Philippines is intrinsically tied with nationalist and separatist claims by people living in provinces in southern Philippines (Mindanao),” the report said -- adding that “terrorism is spread across the country” over the past year, with 438 cities suffering terrorist attacks in 2013, “of which only 104 had one attack or 83 percent of the 81 provinces had at least one terrorist attack.”

Cotabato City recorded the highest number of terrorist activities, the report said, with 11 separate attacks and 11 fatalities recorded.

The report also said the New People’s Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Abu Sayyaf Group carried out the most terrorist activities in 2013.

It added that the government was the target in 34 percent of deaths from terrorist attacks; while business leaders, private citizens, and the police were the targets in 10-17 percent of deaths.

“The use of these tactics and targets demonstrates that many of the terrorist groups in the Philippines are seeking to directly change the political system,” the report said.