MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he fears that terrorists may strike in the Philippines in a "lone wolf" attack similar to deadly incidents in parts of Europe.
Duterte aired his concern in the wake of the defeat of Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, which saw the killing of nearly a thousand Islamist extremists.
Government announced the end of hostilities in the city on Monday, following five months of offensives against the ISIS-linked Maute terror group.
“Pati nga ako natatakot in the sense that they might opt to [do a] lone wolf [attack]. They have tried a massive, violent activity and they were defeated,” Duterte said in a speech at the Manila Hotel, referring to the Maute group.
“They might, I said, opt to do… experimentation with a lone wolf [attack],” he added.
The military had earlier aired similar concerns.
The police are, meanwhile, on alert on the run-up to the country's hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Meetings in November, where 22 world leaders are expected to attend.
Among the police forces' concerns is the possible retaliation of ISIS sympathizers, said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde.
In conveying his worries, the President cited what happened in Barcelona, Spain in August, where a driver rammed a car into a crowd, killing at least 15 people.
Duterte said such lone wolf attacks in Europe have made the continent a “very dangerous place.”
"Even in New York and wherever you go... The safest place to visit now would really be South America. Europe is a very dangerous place to visit. You would not know when there’s a lone wolf or a ton of explosives. Hindi mo talaga mabasa," Duterte said.
The Islamic State, which has been suffering massive losses in Iraq and Syria, has been seeking to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia, with Marawi as one of its provinces.
Over 1,000 people, mostly terrorists, were killed in the 5-month conflict that erupted on May 23. At least 400,000 residents in Marawi City and nearby towns were also forced to evacuate.
The siege prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law.
In a speech last week, the President said he would only lift martial law once the last terrorist in Mindanao has been taken out, a declaration welcomed by the military.