During the recently concluded international conference on “Japan and East Asia in the Midst of Change: Carving a Path for the Region,” it’s my first time to experience being the last paper presenter in the concluding plenary session.(Panel on Japan and Mindanao: Past, Present and Future Challenges)
It’s also my first time to experience presenting a conference paper whose main question was rendered ‘moot and academic’ by a supervening event in such a short time.
On April 25, 2017 – that is, almost a month before the Marawi Siege (May 23) – I submitted to the conference secretariat the abstract of my paper “Is There Already ISIS in the Philippines? Its Security Implications Toward the East Asian Region.”
At a time when the military was persistently denying ISIS’ presence in the country (“Bay’ah: The Missing Link in the Military’s Denial of ISIS,”http://www.mindanews.com/…/marginalia-bayah-the-missing-lin…), I can’t blame the leading member of the secretariat who confided to me later that upon receiving the paper abstract, he said, “Anong klaseng abstract ito; panakot!” (“What an abstract is this; it’s terrifying!”)
After enumerating five (5) security implications and briefly discussing each of them, I concluded thus, “The answer to the question – ‘Is there already ISIS in the Philippines?’ – is already moot and academic, with the siege of Marawi City on May 23, as illustriously conveyed by these photos in which the AFP is posed as ‘ISIS Hunter’. Can you hunt something that is not present?”
After my presentation,, a visiting Japanese scholar approached and whispered to me, “Do you think there is already ISIS in Japan?”
“I haven’t come across any news or information about its presence there.”
I was almost tempted to tell him also, “But there is already an entity in Japan, as elsewhere, which is tougher than ISIS – that is, the MISIS (wife)!”
Yet, I refrained from doing so, as I was afraid he would answer me, “That revelation of yours is also ‘moot and academic’!