The ISIS' phenomenon

For over a week recently, government security forces have been battling the Maute brothers in Butig, Lanao Del Sur. Scores of casualties from both sides were reported. But the greater damage or suffering has been inflicted on the civilians who were uprooted from their homes.

Seriously, the coming in of this group has complicated the situation in Mindanao. Unlike the MILF and NPA, their engagements with government is not covered by terms of reference. Everything seems fair.  It is similar to the early years of Martial Law where everywhere is free-fire zone. Anything that moves is fair target.
Whether the group has firmly established links with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or simply “daish” is still a big question. There is no official confirmation from the government nor from the MILF. Perhaps, the most that can be asserted or maybe admitted is that there are youths who are fascinated by the early successes or radical teachings of the ISIS; and they are trying to connect with the ISIS in the Middle East.
But what is established is that there are hundreds to thousands of Moro youths who claimed to be ISIS-inspired or members. Many of them belonged to well-to-do if not prominent families. They are unconfirmed reports that even sons of prominent politicians are recruited. And the most odd of all, defying earlier theory that the madrasahs (Islamic schools) produce “terrorists”, most of those youths are secular-educated mainly from government institutions.
There are various reasons why this group is hard to defeat immediately. First, they feed on the frustrations of the people caused by the delay in the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao; second, their almost fanatical belief that their interpretation of Islam is the correct one; third, they abhor the perceived compromises of their elders; and fourth, many reports confirmed that they receiving support from overseas.
Strategically, however, their staying power is questioned. First, they violated the cardinal principle of secrecy especially in the organizational stage of the struggle. They do not hide their identities and activities, using Facebook and YouTube extensively; second, they do not organize the people, as base of support; third, they defy the civilized norms of engagement; and fourth, if they solely rely for support from the ISIS, who are virtually encircled in their strongholds, then it is only a matter of time before everything dries up.
On the part of MILF, we continue to hold dialogues and seek understanding with all sectors of our people. This is an obligation that no one can dispense with. And it is producing good results especially with members of the BIFF/BIFM.
Be this as it may, our success will only be limited, because the MILF has no legal authority to enforce what it thinks as right. But once the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed into law and the Bangsamoro government is in place and the MILF is initially placed at the helm of government, then we have both the legal and moral responsibility to effect obedience. We can be an effective partner of government.