The 2017 Marawi siege was the deadliest urban battle in Southeast Asia. More than 1,000 pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorists participated in the siege in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, which lasted from May to October 2017. To review the IS threat since the siege and how the country has responded to it, the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) organised a webinar titled “Four Years After Marawi: Threat and Societal Response in the Philippines” on 2 September 2021.
The webinar explored the evolution of the tactics and narratives adopted by pro-IS militants in Mindanao and the counterterrorism initiatives undertaken by the Philippines government. Chaired by ICPVTR’s head, Assoc Prof Kumar Ramakrishna, the webinar was the third instalment in ICVPTR’s “Terrorism Landscape in Southeast Asia” webinar series in 2021.
The first speaker, Dr Rommel C. Banlaoi, Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), analysed that terrorist groups in the Philippines are “down but not defeated”. He emphasised that the terrorist threat in the Philippines continues to “run in the family”, with suicide attacks having become family affairs. He added that suicide attacks have inevitably involved females and juveniles.
The second speaker, Prof Yusuf Roque S. Morales, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Comparative and Advanced Studies Philippines (ICAS-Phils) and Consultant with the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, discussed the contest for the hearts and minds of the locals between pro-IS terrorists and the authorities. He analysed how the battle narratives have changed since the Marawi siege. On the impact of the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, he assessed that it would invoke Islamist sentiments in Mindanao, but not necessarily violence.
Both speakers highlighted the Philippines’ whole-of-nation approach to combat terrorism. Dr Romel introduced the Philippine government’s BRAVE and PAVE framework in countering the terrorist narrative. The framework includes the launch of the National Action Plan to Counter and Prevent Violent Extremism (NAP/PCVE) in 2019 and the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Law in 2020. Prof Yusuf commented that public-private partnerships are critical in counterterrorism efforts and suggested that government agencies should not hold back on intelligence sharing.
Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel: