By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine Army (PA) is carefully validating reports about the alleged presence of foreign terrorists in the country as part of its proactive measure to fight terrorism in the Philippines.
However, Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, Army Chief, said Islamic State (IS) forces in the Middle East, Iraq and Syria have considered the escape route to the Philippines as part of its old caliphate, thus, opening the possibility that some of them may opt to go to our country.
“They are losing ground in the Middle East, Syria, and Iraq and they consider the area going to the Philippines as part of the old caliphate so there are attempts like that,” Alberto said.
Alberto could not give an estimate as to how many foreign terrorists are being monitored in the country although he assured the public that the Army is “always ready” to protect the people against threats from foreign elements.
“We are always ready. We are always prepared to prevent terrorism at makakatulog ang ating mga mamamayan ng mahimbing (so that the public can sleep peacefully),” he said.
Earlier, security analyst Rommel Banlaoi, president of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism, claimed that an Egyptian couple managed to enter the country to launch intermittent bombing operations with the local extremist group Abu Sayyaf.
Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, had said that they have no information about the Egyptian couple although he stressed that the military continues to collaborate with stakeholders to prevent terror attacks.
Meanwhile, Alberto noted that the Army is strengthening its ties with foreign counterparts to boost its capability in dealing with terrorism.
Earlier this week, Alberto visited the Russian Armed Forces in Moscow upon the invitation of Army General Oleg Salyukov.
The officials had discussed bilateral military cooperation between the two countries, the possible training of Filipino soldiers in Russian military schools and the participation of the Philippine teams in the International Army Games.
“If there is an opportunity for us to engage other armed forces, including Russia, we will engage kasi (because) now we have a problem on terrorism and terrorism is a global problem,” he said.
“Hindi ‘yan pwede kaya ng isang country lang (It [terrorism] cannot be solved by one country alone) so Russia has an extensive experience in countering terrorism. If they want to help us, they want to join us in training and also as part of military diplomacy, i-engage natin (let us engage them),” he added.