Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia plan meet on international terrorism

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia plan meet on international terrorism

Soldiers of the Philippine Army secure a pier during a military exercise. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV, file

MANILA, Philippines — The leaders of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia may meet to discuss international terrorism, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday, as Filipino troops plan their final assault against Islamic State-styled militants in Marawi City.
Duterte said he and Indonesian President Joko Widodo are still awaiting word from Malaysia President Najib Razak on the meeting.
“Widodo and I have yet to hear from Najib. He wants us, the three of us to meet somewhere to talk about this new phenomenon of international terrorism,” the president said during the oath-taking of newly-promoted police officials in Malacañang.
“It seems that we are back into the stages of the old world. Like pirates, of which they are really are… They kill and they just want to destroy,” he added.
Last June, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia launched joint maritime patrols to combat terrorism and other transnational crimes.
Officials said the trilateral border agreement seeks to prevent abductions at sea and the movement of terrorist groups. The three Southeast Asian countries also agreed to share information, exchange liaison officers, share assets and form joint headquarters.
The launching of joint maritime patrols came as Philippine security forces grapple with the threats posed by jihadists that laid siege to Marawi City.
The siege, which started last May 23, prompted Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Duterte said the military operation in Marawi is now on its “final stages” but warned that the Philippines has not seen the last of the terrorists.

'Philippines has not seen last of terrorists'

“I do not think that the siege in Marawi would be the beginning and the end. It has begun in Sulu many years ago and the number of times that we were humiliated as a country,” the President said.
“We cannot even protect our own, much more with the number of tourists who disregard warnings and go there. And that Malacca Strait there, the great expanse is the Sulu Sea then it gets to be constricted because you have to ply the Malacca Strait. That has become a very serious problem for everybody,” he added.
To counter the terrorist threat, Duterte said he would form five to seven battalions of elite police commandos and to acquire additional jets and fast boats.
“I am looking for money and I want the Philippine National Police to as soon as possible recruit and organize about five to seven battalions of [Special Action Force]-trained,” the president said.
“I do not need at this time the large, gray ships. All I need are the fast boats to pursue the pirates and terrorists,” he added. Gray ships rever to naval vessels while white refers to Coast Guard or maritime law enforcement craft.
Duterte is also planning to double the number of lead-in fighter trainer jets to 24 from 12 to achieve a “credible Air Force.”

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