By Martin A. Sadongdong
Top foreign ministers, intelligence and security officials of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia met yesterday in Pasay City to firm up an “intensified trilateral security cooperation” in a bid to combat the challenges of terrorism and stop extremists from establishing operational bases in Southeast Asia.
Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who led the Philippine delegation said that the trilateral security meeting will enable the three countries to share and exchange information on the growing threat of terrorism particularly in Southeast Asia.
Cayetano said terrorists who claim to be “acting in the name of religion,” were basing their actions on fear, hate and violence so authorities must counter it with “love.”
“Those you love, you protect. You want them to have peace, security and stability. That is why our men in uniform are giving everything including their own lives that we may be safe,” Cayetano said.
“This meeting is called that we may help each other, for Filipinos not only to love Philippines but for us to love Malaysia, Indonesia, ASEAN, Asia, and the rest of the world in the hope that the love that the Indonesian and Malaysian people will show to us will continue and further grow,” he added.
Cayetano noted that drugs, crime, poverty and injustice makes fertile ground for extremism.
Threat beyond borders
Cayetano’s counterpart,Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Haji Aman, echoed the need for the three countries to unite.
“No country is immune from the threat of terrorism. This threat is beyond border. Your challenges are Indonesia’s challenges and your challenges are also the challenges of the region,” Marsudi said.
“The threat is imminent, ‘no action’ is not an option. This is incumbent upon us to embark on taking concrete action. This is also due to the fact that threat of terrorism is even more worrying because of social media factors. Therefore, cooperation among the three of us is a necessity, cooperation among us is a must,” she added.
Anifah said terrorists have used modern technology to wreak havoc all around the world so defense capability of the three countries must be also innovated.
“Technology has enabled terrorists to spread their message faster than ever before. They have proven to be experts in using social media. Terrorists have now exploited this to their own advantage. Now what do we do? We must therefore have a comprehensive yet flexible approach to addressing the problem. In the same time, [we must] have the cooperation and coordination of all countries. We must be innovating ourselves,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Ano disclosed they have gained ground in the Marawi standoff having recaptured and cleared at least 56 buildings formerly occupied by Maute militants.
“We are able to recapture and clear at least 56 buildings. So ang labanan ngayon, building by building. Malaki kasi, mga tatlong barangay eh. Hindi mo rin pwedeng hulaan kung ilang building mayroon na nagtatago sila,” Ano said.
Ano also bared that the information and intelligence sharing between the three countries will boost the country’s defense capabilities.
“In fact, they are forecasting in six months, matalo nila ang ISIS. We expect na yung ma-displace na forces nila pupunta ng Asia and because of Marawi crisis parang maapektuhan ang Pilipinas,” Ano said.
“Normally, Malaysians and Indonesians ang narerecruit ng ISIS dahil gusto nila ng ISIS base sa Southeast Asia. Ang importante lang dito, information sharing para malabanan at saka support sa kanila,” he added.
Tags: DFA, Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, intensified trilateral security cooperation, Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Manila Bulletin, Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Trilateral cooperation against terrorism ‘a must’
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