It is illuminating in this regard to read Richard Paddock's "Duterte, Focused on Drug Users in Philippines, Ignored Rise of ISIS," which appeared yesterday in the national edition of The New York Times:
Government forces have been unable to dislodge the militants despite deploying ground troops and bombing the city of 200,000 people from the air. More than 200 people have been killed, including 24 civilians, 58 soldiers and police officers and at least 138 militants, according to the Philippine military.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled, and much of the city center lies in ruins. The military says that it has cleared 90 percent of the city but that militants remain in three neighborhoods in the center, where they are mixed in with hundreds of civilians.
Mr. Duterte has declared 60 days of martial law for the southern island of Mindanao, which includes Marawi and his hometown, Davao City. He has twice set deadlines for troops to retake Marawi, the country’s largest predominantly Muslim city, but each deadline has passed with the battle still raging.
On Friday, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla predicted that the government would retake Marawi by Monday, Philippines Independence Day. On Saturday, 13 Philippine marines were killed in a clash with militants there.
The militants’ seizure of the city, a bold attempt to establish an Islamic State caliphate in Southeast Asia, is a significant advance for the Middle East-based terrorist group as well as an apparent reordering of the militant threat in the southern Philippines.
For the first time, it puts the Philippines on the map with failed states such as Libya and Afghanistan as places where Islamic State allies have sought to seize territory for a caliphate, giving the group another regional flash point in its effort to spread its influence globally.
The Islamic State has urged fighters who cannot reach Syria to join the jihad in the Philippines instead, said Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. Fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia, Chechnya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia were among those killed in the battle for Marawi.In the pages of the Western prestige press, the Philippines under Duterte has become a pariah state similar to Venezuela under Maduro. Duterte's crime is not that he has promoted a vigilante solution to drug abuse in the Philippines. If this were the case, where is a similar of criticism for Saudi Arabia? Duterte's status as official enemy is due to his consideration of moving the Philippines away from its U.S. colonial overlord and realigning it with China.