0317 GMT March 23, 2019
Prosecutors said Thursday that the designation could seriously help the government hunt down members of Abu Sayyaf and impose sanctions on its supporters.
“This is one more way to turn our country into a hostile ground for terrorists,” state prosecutor Aristotle Reyes said, adding that the ruling came after some major commanders of Abu Sayyaf expressed allegiance to Daesh, a Takfiri group mainly operating in Iraq and Syria.
The court decision was a rare use of Philippines’ anti-terrorism law, with many saying it was apparently influenced by a previous designation in the United States. Abu Sayyaf is now the first militant group to be officially banned in the South Asian country while authorities said they will follow the same procedure for at least three other militant entities.
“This first-ever terrorist designation is a template that we can use for other ... armed groups which sow violence and target innocent people,” state prosecutor Peter Medalle said.
Abu Sayyaf, quite well-known for its kidnappings, beheadings and deadly bombings, was founded in 1991 on southern Basilan Island with a promise to wage a war against the government. However, the Takfiri group lost major commanders at the beginning of its fight and was gradually split into factions with a few hundred militants. However, the group continues to survive on ransom and extortion.
In 2007, Washington demanded a court in Basilan outlaw the group nearly six years after militants kidnapped 20 people, including two Americans, at the Dos Palmas resort in western Palawan Province. The arrested members of Abu Sayyaf later revealed the extent of the crimes committed by the group, such the beheadings of the hostages, including one American.