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DFA vows progress in counterterrorism after US report

FILE - In this Friday, June 9, 2017 file photo, debris and smoke rises after a Philippine Air Force fighter jets bombed suspected locations of Muslim militants, in Marawi city, southern Philippines. The Islamic State group's mashup of local insurgency and digitally-connected global jihadis gives the group staying power and a launchpad for its future. The impending loss of Mosul and Raqqa will still urban heart of its self-proclaimed Caliphate, but the extremist organization has built-in plans to endure, a blueprint for supporters and the flexibility to bide its time away from airstrikes. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs asserted on Friday that the government is taking "bold and decisive steps" to counter terrorism after the United States Department of State reported that the Philippines was among the countries with the most terror attacks last year.

"The Duterte administration recognized this early, and will continue to take bold and decisive steps to eliminate this nefarious threat," the DFA said in a statement.

"[The administration will] destroy their resource channels from illicit drugs and other crimes, and ensure that the Philippines will not be a haven for their operations," it added.

According to the counterterrorism report, the Philippines is one of the five countries where 55 percent of terror attacks in 2016 took place. Among the five are Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

READ: US: Philippines among 5 countries with most terror incidents

The report said the police and military were "unable to prevent numerous attacks against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in central and western Mindanao" despite the government's counterterrorism efforts focused on terrorist organizations.

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The state department also suggested that the Duterte government's focus on the war on drugs and terrorism has prevented the Armed Forces of the Philippines from fully shifting its attention to external threats.

"President Duterte's focus on anti-narcotics and counterterrorism operations slowed progress towards shifting internal security functions from the AFP and [Philippine National Police]," the report said.

It added that terrorist groups were also still able to execute bombings, shootings and ambushes in the country, citing the incident last November 28 when a bomb was disarmed near the US Embassy in Manila.

The DFA, meanwhile, vowed that the government "will spare no effort" to secure a safe and peaceful environment in the Philippines.

"The report helps elucidate further the very clear and present danger posed by terrorism in the country," the department said.

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