Whether the Duterte administration admits it or not, the fight against terrorism is not any more a matter of superior physical strength and firepower. Terrorism financing is the new gamechanger that makes the neutralization of terrorist groups by the military and other state forces more intricate and harder than before.
As a wide reader of news, I found out that various wired and bank transfers, as well as cash remittances, increased a couple of months before the Marawi siege commenced. While there’s nothing wrong with increased remittances and mobile fund transfers per se, said money transfers were so frequent and unusually high in amount enough to raise suspicion and alert. However, for some unknown reasons, these odd economic events were not acted upon by banks and government authorities. Had it been so, we could have totally incapacitated the Daesh-inspired Maute group and halted the Marawi siege even before it had started.
Nowadays, it is undeniable that funds or monies may be transferred with utmost ease. Daily needs and wants may now be bought through online banking and other modes of mobile purchases. Many things may be purchased using prepaid or postpaid loads. Unfortunately, as much as the general public benefits from these innovations, these too may be exploited by terrorist groups in order to get funding from their avid patrons and “benefactors.”
Terrorism must be included in the list of priorities of the legislature. While focused military operations are matters of policy and strategy peculiar to our Armed Forces, it is likewise necessary to institute a working mechanism in our legal system. It’s about time that Congress revisit and reexamine existing laws, rules and regulations on bank secrecy and money laundering to enable it to craft and enact a more relevant, responsive, yet practicable law that shall aid our military and other state forces in suppressing the bloodline of terrorism and even other criminal activities — FINANCING.
Depriving a person of food and other nourishment completely shall kill him — the same way that depriving terrorist groups of financial support will incapacitate them. Maybe, it’s about time for our government to look at national security and terrorism in a different and more holistic perspective. Maybe, it’s about time for our authorities to concede and accept the reality that nowadays, war is not just fought with guns and artillery.
When used unscrupulously to sow terror and fear, and achieve criminal objectives, money, too, could kill.
MARGARITA BUCANON, [email protected]
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