23 June 2017

PH beefs up cooperation with Indonesia, Malaysia vs. terror, extremism

DAVAO CITY — Malacañang announced on Friday, June 23, that the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia have agreed to beef up their trilateral cooperation against extremism and in preventing terrorists from establishing operational hubs in Southeast Asia.

“Yesterday, foreign military, intelligence officials from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia had a fruitful and productive discussion on a trilateral cooperation aimed at preventing extremists and terrorists from establishing operational bases in Southeast Asia,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during the Mindanao Hour briefing here in Davao.

Abella added that the three countries have agreed to work together to develop and implement counterterrorism measures and strategies.

“Let us underline that their joint aim, the end game is to prevent the establishment of operational bases in Southeast Asia,” he said.

The Palace official meanwhile said that the Duterte administration is now preparing a comprehensive multi-year Marawi reconstruction plan.

“Repairs, rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructure in Marawi will be funded,” Abella said, noting that P10-billion of the Marawi rehabilitation fund will come from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) while the reconstruction of infrastracture will come from the national budget.

According to Abella, the Marawi crisis is a “wake-up call for Filipinos to be able to come together and begin to believe that we have a higher narrative aside from our local, regional, and personal interests.”

“I think it’s high time that we continue to build up on our values, family values, and also higher values,” he said, noting that the Marawi crisis has underscored that we are defending the Filipino way of life.

“We’re defending our sense of community, we’re defending our sense of higher values, but we’re not defending ourselves against other people. We’re simply saying that we want to establish what we truly and honestly believe that we can have — as the President is saying — a comfortable life, comfortable life that is based on common prosperity, common humanity, law and order, understanding and support. So I believe it’s really high time for us to really again come together and believe that we can establish the Filipino way of life,” Abella said.

In the same briefing, the Armed Forces of the Philippines downplayed reports on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF’s) threats against President Rodrigo Duterte.

East Mindanao Command deputy commander and Mindanao Martial Law spokesperson Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay described the BIFF’s threat as a “desperate pronouncement” after they were pushed back by the military in its attack in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.

“That pronouncement of the BIFF is a desperate pronouncement because what happened in Pigcawayan recently was a theoretic retaliation of — and somehow a diversionary attack resulting from the setbacks, major setbacks they have been experiencing in their stronghold in Maguindanao, specifically the SPMS box, because our forces there have also intensified operations against the BIFF,” Gapay said.

“SPMS box” refers to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona in Maguindanao, where the BIFF operates.

Gapay also said that the Pigcawayan incident is not connected with the Marawi operations.

For his part, Mindanao Development Authority chairman Secretary Datu Abdul Khayr Alonto said the Bangsamoros support the call of President Duterte for a federal type of government.

Alonto likewise proposed an All-Moro Convention to expedite inclusivity or the participation of all sectors of the Bangsamoro as well as the convergence of the two separate tracts, which means the peace agreement and the peace processes with the Moro fronts.

“The All-Moro Convention will prepare the common Moro platform in the form of a proposed consolidated and comprehensive Moro law based on consensus, inclusivity and convergence in line and in preparation for federalism, which the Convention will submit to the Constitutional Commission that will prepare the draft of the new Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines whether for Congress sitting as a Constituent Assembly or for a Constitutional Convention,” Alonto said.

Office Of The Presidential Adviser On The Peace Process Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso meanwhile said that there were 277 trapped civilians, including the wounded, women and children, who were retrieved and recovered since the opening of the peace corridor, adding that the opening of the peace corridor showed the sincerity of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to make peace with the government.

“The fruition of this, with this peace corridor, that they are innate and they are helping us. And we hope that this confidence-building will reverberate to the people of the country when the law is passed — the BBL is passed,” Hermoso said.###PND