MALACANANG yesterday said the death of a leader of a terrorist network does not necessarily translate to the extinction of that group.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest when cornered in a raid by US special forces in northwest Syria.
“That’s good news for countries who have been terrorized by the ISIS. But then again, the leader of one group does not mean the extinction of that band of terrorists; we know that for a fact,” Panelo said at a news conference.
Panelo cited the case of Osama bin Laden who was succeeded by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri as leader of terrorist organization al-Qaeda following bin Laden’s death in an operation by American forces in 2011.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Baghdadi’s death was a blow to the Islamic State because of his stature as a leader but “somebody will take his place” to lead the group.
“But then, it may also cause discouragement on the part of the terrorist groups. But as far as we are concerned, whether the leader dies or not, we will secure that part of our country from them,” Panelo said referring to Mindanao.
In August, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was worried about an Islamic State attack, and that he prayed that God would spare the Philippines from the terror group’s “brutality and cruelty.”
The New York Times reported in March that the Philippines was tipped to become an emerging base for ISIS which had already lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria.
According to the NYT, ISIS had “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.