The Symbions Liberation Army (SLA) is one of the most powerful military organisations in the Philippines.
The SLA, which was founded in 1973, is one the largest military organisations on the island of Mindanao and is the biggest military force in the country, with about 1.8 million personnel, according to the Philippine Defense Force.
The group is considered to be the “motherland’s army” by many.
The armed group was also responsible for the liberation of the city of Marawi, which is still under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
It has been known for its role in the Philippine-led campaign against the Abu Sayyaf group.
According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 people have been killed since the Philippine military launched the offensive against the militant group.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, retired Brigadier General Jose Antonio Rangel, who served in the army from 2005 to 2016, described the rise in the SLA.
He said the SLa had “no intention of surrendering the land” and is “ready to fight for the Filipino people.”
“This is a group that has a very, very, long history, a long history of being in conflict with the government, and the government is fighting against it,” he said.
“The SLA is a very active military organisation.”
Rangel said that although the SLI had a history of involvement in armed groups, the SLP was the group’s “greatest threat”.
“It’s our great concern to the Filipino government and we have a lot of people that we need to bring to justice, but we are also fighting for the rights of the people, and they are our greatest threat,” he added.
The SLP, Rangel added, has “been responsible for hundreds of killings, many of them people who have not been found yet.”
Rangel told Al Jazeera that while the SLAs rise in prominence and influence has been largely driven by social media, there has been a push from within the military to push back against the group.
“We have been calling for more accountability from the SLO,” he explained.
The Philippine military has been trying to crack down on the SLU, which has gained momentum after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on July 3, saying the group was responsible for at least 40 deaths since the end of martial law. “
They are in a position of power and control over the lives of the Filipino population, but they have not made any effort to take care of the citizens of Mindanoa or Davao.”
The Philippine military has been trying to crack down on the SLU, which has gained momentum after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on July 3, saying the group was responsible for at least 40 deaths since the end of martial law.
Duterte has denied any responsibility for the deaths and has warned that the SLB could be used to commit future atrocities.
“I want the SLBs to stop their killing.
They should not be allowed to kill,” Duterte said in a televised speech in April.
Philippine troops, backed by the United States, Philippines military, Australia, Thailand, Japan and Singapore, have been battling the group since late April.
Since then, the Philippine government has launched a series of operations in Marawi and other parts of Mindanas territory.
According the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the number of confirmed and suspected members of the SLAI has risen from approximately 2,000 to more than 20,000 since the beginning of the operation.
According to Rangel’s account, the rise is partly a result of increased military pressure, but also because of the growing popularity of social media.
“It’s really the military’s way of making a statement.
It’s a statement that the government can take out the SLOs and make them think twice about their actions,” he told Al-Jazeera.
“That’s their message to the SLOA.”