Philippines climbs to 10th spot in Global Terrorism Index

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 20) —  Terrorism in the Philippines worsened in 2017, climbing up two spots and ranking 10th among 163 countries most affected by terrorism.

The Philippines is the lone Southeast Asian country to rank in the Global Terrorism Index and also ranked first in the terrorism index in the Asia-Pacific region, where 11 were killed in attacks by Islamic State militants in 2017 - all of which happened in the country.

According to the report, 326 died from terrorism in the Philippines in 2017 - the highest since 2002. The communist New People's Army (NPA) is responsible for 35 percent of these deaths, while the Abu Sayyaf is responsible for 37 deaths, and the Maute Group responsible for 26.

It added that 33 percent of terrorist-related deaths were committed by unknown assailants, who were likely part of the Abu Sayyaf or the Maute Group, both of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

The NPA and the Abu Sayyaf are among the three deadliest terror organizations in the Asia-Pacific region, the report said, only being bested by the Myanmar-based Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

Marawi siege

The report noted that the five-month siege of Marawi City "was a defining moment in Islamist terrorism in the Philippines" which highlighted that Islamic State-affiliated groups are able to take territory and that the Philippine government had difficulty in responding to this threat.

"The Philippines is particularly threatened by [Islamic State]-sympathisers and radical Islamist groups. Many of the leaders responsible for the Marawi siege came from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and a number of these same leaders remain active," the report said.

It added that many of the remaining fighters in the siege have regrouped and continued training, while Islamic State propaganda online has encouraged foreign fighters to travel to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

It took the Philippine government five months to quell the siege that left hundreds dead, 72,000 families displaced and the entire Mindanao placed under martial law until the end of 2019.

The Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte has taken steps to address the worsening terrorism in the Philippines, highlighting his declaration of martial law in Mindanao and his issuance of orders deploying more policemen and military personnel in parts of the country and the creation of a task force against communist rebels.

"We are not taking terrorism lightly. Our goal is to totally eradicate rebellion by crushing it as well as by providing better services and opportunities for all to achieve a state where there would no longer be a need for any uprising or armed struggle," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Thursday.

The global terrorism index is produced by independent think tank Institute for Economics and Peace based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

The GTD contains over 170,000 terrorist incidents for the period 1970 to 2017.

CNN Philippines' Ella Hermonio and Ina Andolong contributed to this report.