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Duterte sees passage of BBL, tagged cure for terror

/ 06:05 AM March 03, 2018

BUILDERS President Duterte visits Bahay Pag-asa Phase 2 in Marawi, a housing project for displaced residents of the city, with (from left) Army Maj. Gen. Rolando Bautista, Tarlac Heritage Foundation cofounder Isa Cojuangco Suntay and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The project features 60 houses each measuring more than 23 square meters and with complete basic and recreational facilities. —PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE ARMY

MARAWI CITY—President Duterte predicted the passage in both chambers of Congress of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which its proponents said was the cure to a rise in terrorism and extremism.

“The BBL, we see it will pass through,” said the President at the inauguration of a temporary relocation site here.

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Mr. Duterte said the passage of BBL would allow the Moro people to profit from their ancestral domain.

“What would be given is, whatever you get from underneath the soil, it’s yours,” he said.

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But Duterte said the new Bangsamoro entity, which would be established by BBL, would eventually have to join a federal Philippines.

“If there is already be a federal framework, there would be various regions,” said Mr. Duterte.

Regions for everyone

“What setup do you want, Maranao region, Maguindanao region, Iranun region and (Sulu region) for Misuari? If you don’t want to mingle with other people, then we will put up regions for ourselves,” he added.

Mr. Duterte also reiterated his earlier statement that he would step down once the federal system was in place.

He said if it was established by 2020 “I will step down.”

The Philippines was among countries warned by the United States of an increasingly decentralized Islamic State (IS) spreading in Asia.

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At a conference in Washington, the US Department of State designated seven IS-linked groups as terrorist threats underlining the reach of the network.

Adapting

The IS group’s former stronghold in its so-called “caliphate” in eastern Syria and northern Iraq has been all but destroyed by US-backed military operations, but the jihadis are adapting.

With overt military targets harder to find, the next stage in the fight against the extremists will lean more heavily on law enforcement and civilian prosecution of suspected militants.

“I think what we’re seeing is Isis becoming increasingly decentralized,” said the US Department of State’s counterterrorism coordinator, Nathan Sales, who addressed the meeting.

“IS is evolving and adapting,” he said, explaining the decision to blacklist IS regional groups, including the Philippines’ Maute, under separate designations.

Maute group triggered the takeover bid by IS of Marawi City in May 2017 and was linked to an attempt to bomb the US Embassy in Manila.

Washington was also concerned about IS’ growing foothold in the Indian subcontinent, where the now designated IS-Bangladesh launched its campaign by killing an Italian aid worker in 2015.

Branches

In Egypt, the US terror designations now list IS-Egypt as a separate group from IS-Sinai Province, with both having carried out attacks and the former claiming responsibility for a deadly 2016 church bombing.

The new designations also include Jund al-Khilafa, a Tunisian armed group that has pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The conference was hosted jointly by the US Department of State, Interpol and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law.

Washington was also urging reluctant partners such as Britain and France to take custody of their citizens who joined IS and were captured in Iraq or Syria and bring them up for prosecution. —DIVINA SUSON WITH A REPORT FROM AFP

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TAGS: BBL, duterte, Marawi, Terrorism
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