President's Rodrigo Duterte was on a visit to Russia when trouble erupted back home. Islamic militants stormed the predominantly Muslim city of Malawi in the eastern Philippines. The city has a population of 200,000. Hundreds were taken hostage. Even now some 2000 people are reportedly trapped as the ISIS-linked Maute militants go about executing "betrayers" who try to flee the city. Due to this, the president cut his visit short and flew home. In addition, he imposed martial law in the eastern Philippines. The Muslim rebels are fighting for an independent state.

This news was reported by CNN International.

Attacking the insurgents

The Philippine Army is now using "maximum" force to crush the insurgents. The going is not easy and a dozen police and military personnel have been killed. The assault by the army has weakened the Islamic resistance, and, as per reports, 61 terrorists have been killed. The Islamic terrorists are also executing many locals who were trying to flee the besieged city.

It is now recognized that the nature of militancy in the Philippines has changed. It is no longer a homegrown movement as Muslims from Malaysia, Borneo, and Indonesia have infiltrated the ranks of the Muslim fighters. Duterte has a fight on his hands.

Duterte and Islamic militancy

The president promised to crush the Islamic militants. He has been reported by RT News as saying: "If I cannot confront them, I will resign. If I am incompetent and incapable of keeping order in the country, let me step down and give the job to somebody else."

Driving out the terrorists from the eastern part of the country is now a matter of pride for the president.

It should not, however, be forgotten that Islamic militancy has been an ongoing phenomenon for decades and the Philippine army has been unable to crush them.

Last word

This time the odds may just favor President Duterte. He is a ruthless man. His war on drugs has led to hundreds being killed in extra-judicial killings. He has also questioned the role of the USA in the region.

The Islamic terrorists are facing an air assault and this is having a demoralizing effect on them. Many are wanting to flee the city of Malawi to escape being killed by an air strike. The militants are low on food and ammunition and the army may prevail.

The Islamic militants still hold hundreds of people as hostages, some in inaccessible regions. Rescuing them will not be easy. The army is moving in ruthlessly, and perhaps under Duterte, they will defeat the insurgents.