Philippines reaches out to Australia as ISIS spill over begins

Maguindanao is 150 kilometers away from Marawi and is known for its several communities sympathetic to terror groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Philippine troops kill 4 Abu Sayyaf militants in Bohol
Philippine troops Reuters

As the battle in Marawi is nearing its end, another ISIS group is sprouting in the province of Maguindanao province, suggest reports. With this new threat, the Philippine government is reaching out to Australia to discuss the deployment of more Australian Defence Force teams to the Philippines.

A sporadic war in the Maguindanao province border, known at Mt. Cararao, is currently taking place and with the new threats rising in this restive province, the Philippine Defence Department announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is open to the idea of declaring martial law throughout the country if the rebels get out of hand.

Maguindanao is 150 kilometers away from Marawi and is a province known for its several communities sympathetic to terror groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The sporadic battle in Maguindanao cannot be belittled because, in August alone, five Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters were killed in the battle. Moreover, 20 militants from the BIFF were also killed in Datu Salibu in the same province. While the Philippine military is pre-occupied with the ongoing battle in Marawi, the Philippine government is tapping the help of the MILF, a revolutionary organization and a former enemy, to eliminate terrorists in the Maguindanao.

However, despite the military assistance of the MILF, China and the US, the collaboration hasn't been very fruitful. Thus, Philippines is seeking help from neighbouring Australia in suppressing this rising threat.

Though China and US provided the Southeast Asian country with arms and ammunition, Philippines military still remains short in terms of resources as it needs at least USD 20 million more from the government to replenish depleting resources like fuel and ammunition.

Earlier, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana and Australia Defence Minister Marise Payne met in Manila to discuss the deployment of more Australian soldiers. Philippines wants more Austrian personnel to be stationed in Philippine military bases, however, the Australian Defence department refused to fight the enemy face to face and said they can only assist in providing technical training to suppress the spreading of extremist ideology.

Payne said to Philippines media that they are planning for a specialized training intended for ISIS.

On the other hand, Lorenza claimed that the assistance will mostly be in the form of information gathering and analysis.

The Australia government has already assisted the Philippine soldiers as early as June 2017 by lending its two P2 Orion surveillance aircraft but the Philippine military officials claimed that the terrorists remain to be elusive. While there were at least 700 heavily armed fighters who raided Marawi on May 23, only less than a hundred are left in the battle zone after heavy airstrikes. night.

Payne, while visiting the Philippines admitted that both countries will put together an arrangement that is best for both of them.

Why can ISIS fighters in the Philippine be a serious threat to Australia?

Australia sees the rising ISIS threat in the Philippines as a serious concern because of the geographical proximity between two of them. Thus, experts believe, Australia is exerting more effort to prevent the spillover of ISIS ideology to Australia

This was reiterated by Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce who insisted that Australia does not want an Islamic caliphate in the Southern part of the Philippines. Two other neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, also oppose the terror uprising.

Moreover, Australia also has its own version of local terror attacks as terror organizations have begun establishing their presence in different parts of Southeast Asia.

While Australia has the most sophisticated military capability in the region, the country can also be vulnerable to terror attacks if a spillover of terror sympathizers happens.