Rebellion, banditry and terrorism

>> Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ike Señeres

From all indications, it appears that the members of the Maute Group are actually terrorists, and are neither rebels nor bandits. To say that they are rebels would in fact dignify them, because that would mean that they have a cause that they are fighting for, and that they are directly aiming to bring down the government of the Philippines.
To say that they are bandits would in fact marginalize them, making them appear that they have no other goal but to plunder and steal. As we now see it however, they do not seem to be wanting in money and resources at all.
If in fact they are actually bandits that would mean that they are merely and simply criminals, and nothing more. That would also mean that the problems they are causing are merely and simply civilian matters, and would only require police actions, and not military interventions.
It seems that early on, the government has already determined that these people are not merely and simply criminals, and thus it was deemed necessary to call for military interventions. As of now however, the government has been saying that these people are terrorists, but no formal declaration to that effect has been made so far.
An insurgency is a rebellion against an authority, such as the authority of the Philippine Government. There is a condition however that those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. According to Wikipedia, “A state of belligerency may also exist between one or more sovereign states on one side and rebel forces, if such rebel forces are recognized as belligerents. If there is a rebellion against a constituted authority and those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents, the rebellion is an insurgency”.
It is interesting to note that during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was recognized as a belligerent power by some countries, even if it has not yet gained sovereign status. According to international law, once the status of belligerency is established between two or more states, their relations are governed by the rules of war, and that includes protection of the rights of combatants on both sides of the conflict. At this juncture, we should point that up to now, the long running communist rebellion is considered as an insurgency up to now, and a state of belligerency is not even hinted.
Up to now, it is not really clear whether the members of the Maute Group are simply just sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), meaning that they are simply trying to get the attention so that they could be recognized by ISIS as a branch, a cell or anything to that effect. Based on the fact that the group seems to have access to large amounts of money, it would not be farfetched to theorize that actual contact has already been made between the two groups, and that money has already flowed between their two sides. Tacit or not, there is reason to believe that one way or the other, ISIS has already recognized the local group.
Practically all over the world, authorities have already declared and categorized ISIS as a terrorist group, thus leaving out the possibility of classifying them as either bandits or rebels. Not being classified as rebels, they also have no chance of achieving a belligerent status between them and their state enemies.
At this point, it is important to note that from the outset, ISIS has introduced itself not as a mere organization, but as a Caliphate, in other words a sovereign state, supposedly that is. According to some reports, the leader of the local group has already introduced himself as an Emir of that supposed Caliphate, probably suggesting that on their part, they would want to establish some kind of a vassal state or a tributary state.
Very clearly, the local communist rebels have not been categorized as a terrorist group, and it is for that reason that the government could still negotiate with them, because the government is not supposed to negotiate with terrorists. On the other hand, the Abu Sayaf Group (ASG) appears to be classified up to now as a bandit group, and therefore they are neither rebels nor terrorists, at least in theory. Because of recent reports that the ASG has come to the aid of the Maute Group, it may now be necessary to declare the ASG as a terrorist group as well.
Based on the behavior of many other countries, any action against terrorists is already as a military matter, and no longer a police matter per se. At this point, declaring the local communist rebels as a terrorist group is out of the question, because the government is already negotiating with them.
Based on the will power demonstrated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, it is clear that negotiating with the Maute Group is also out of the question. It is also clear that they are not simply bandits, but they could still claim to be insurgents, hoping perhaps to get some favorable treatment if caught. Before any form of belligerent status is hinted, it appears necessary to already declare them officially as terrorists.
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