[Newspoint] An ISIS hang-up
There seems a tendency these days to see the hand of Islamist terrorists in any criminal operations mounted by armed bands. Where before we saw only plain outlaws and rebels of purely domestic interests roaming around, we now see not just any terrorists but terrorists of the most dreaded species — the Middle Eastern-bred ISIS (Islamic State).
Marawi City is a case in point running for weeks now. Troops there have been battling Abu Sayyaf brigands and renegades from rebel movements who now profess to fight together for ISIS, although not necessarily as conscripts. They do carry the ISIS flag to battle, but the suspicion is that they do so only to attract ISIS attention and financial support.
Replicas of the flag are shown on television left lying around in Marawi, offering themselves to the media for a dramatic illustration of news reporting. Once the pictures go out in print, on the air, and online their promotional value begins to be realized, and it accrues not only to an enemy looking for ISIS patronage.
The government itself should feel favored by any impression that the conflict is more serious than it actually is; that it is serious enough to justify martial law, which President Duterte already has declared not just for Marawi or the province in which it is situated but for all of the island group of Mindanao; even serious enough to justify Duterte's warning that, given ISIS's aggressiveness, the emergency could spread across the country and eventually require nationwide martial rule.
A sort of ISIS hang-up indeed appears to have developed among us. When one man broke into the Resort World casino in Manila last week and shot up ceilings and walls and set fire to gambling tables, reflex reaction had some of us – media people included – searching for ISIS principals behind him. In a tone of excited eagerness, reporters were quick to ask the police chief, Gen. Ronald de la Rosa: So, is martial law coming down nationwide?
In the end, no connection could be traced to ISIS, although credit for the attack was claimed in its name. But trust Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to form in his imagination an even more ludicrous theory: If not ISIS, it must be Senator Leila de Lima; she may not have inspired the attack, but she could be accountable for the collateral cost of 37 people dying by asphyxiation in the casino fire.
Aguirre refers to a legal opinion De Lima, as justice secretary herself, supposedly gave preventing the Bureau of Fire Protection from enforcing certain safety laws in casinos. Obviously, he is not through with De Lima, who has been in jail for 3 months now on another ridiculous concoction by him – that she is a drug lord.
Investigators have put together a likelier case: a gambling addict driven to debt, then to insanity, and finally to suicide, by self-immolation; in the panic and confusion, rescue efforts in the fire fell short. But apparently Aguirre is one lawyer who seems to me not impressed by theories too logical; to whom too logical is too pat.
ISIS, Duterte scare
Aguirre just can’t seem to stop himself concocting. In fact, he had his own theory about Marawi. He said oppositionist lawmakers had gone there two weeks before and spoken with suspect families, and might thus have incited the enemy intrusion.
Replying to the accusation, one of the accused lawmakers, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, said, “The incompetence of Aguirre is only matched by his stupidity.”
That may not be something legally provable, but, in his accusation of Trillanes and the others, Aguirre has been proved wrong on everything he passed off as fact — for one thing, the time was off by as much as two years and the place off by many miles.
In fact, about Marawi, fact is precisely what there’s too little of, and fear, on the other hand, is what there’s too much of. But then that may just be the precise idea; it certainly fits in with a plot, if there’s one, to promote an ISIS scare as well as with the president’s suggestion that he may go nationwide with his martial law.
What’s certain is there’s a scare going around, if not an ISIS scare, a Duterte scare, and the latter seems to me the more plausible and imminently realizable. – Rappler.com