Philippines, Indonesia, agree to step up cooperation to combat terrorism

Malacañang on Thursday, June 22, said President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to step up the Philippines and Indonesia’s cooperation against terrorism and violent extremism.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the two leaders had a phone conversation on Wednesday.

He then described the phone call between President Duterte and President Widodo as productive and fruitful, with the Indonesian leader reaffirming his support for the Philippines’s fight against terrorism and quest for Mindanao peace.

“The call was productive and fruitful. They both reaffirmed the need to step up cooperation to address threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism,” Abella said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Abella also said that both leaders noted the importance of the trilateral meeting between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

He said the meeting is aimed at fostering cooperation on countering terrorism among regional neighboring states, noting that President Widodo reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to support the Philippines in countering terrorism, as well as restoring peace and stability in the Southern Philippines.

“The President also welcomed the Indonesian President’s expression of commitment and emphasized the Philippine government’s full resolve to work closer together with Indonesia and like-minded states to address these issues,” Abella said.

Abella meanwhile said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Embassy of China in the Philippines have signed the Minutes of Discussion covering a full financial grant for the design and construction of Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantelon Bridges in Manila and Makati/Mandaluyong, respectively.

According to the initial project design, the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge will have four lanes and a total length of 807 meters. The Estrella-Pantelon Bridge will also be a four-lane bridge.

Abella meanwhile said that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has distributed on June 15, 2017 certificates of land ownership awards covering more than 700 hectares of agricultural lands in Kalinga Apayao, Benguet and Ifugao to 1,163 agrarian reform beneficiaries or ARBs.

In addition, three farm-to-market roads and five communal irrigation projects amounting to P137.4 million has been turned over which would improve the performance of agricultural production in the areas, he said.

DSWD, doing its best to respond to Marawi crisis

In the same briefing, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it has spent P294 million in kind, food and non-food items and cash augmentation to address the needs of families affected by the Marawi crisis.

As chair of the Response Cluster, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that the DSWD is in charge of providing food and non-food items as well as camp coordination and management to the evacuees. As of June 21, there have been 69,434 families displaced by the conflict.

Of the entire population affected by the conflict, only about five percent are actually in the evacuation centers and the majority stays in their homes,
according to Taguiwalo.

The DSWD chief said they are in the process of procuring family-sized tents, one tent for every family, in preparation for the return of the evacuees to Marawi City, she said.

At the same time, the DSWD also distributed P1,000 in cash assistance based on the request from ARMM to provide assistance to the evacuees for the observance of Ramadan.

“We have started the distribution of P1,000 each, all of the families will be provided that. Another P4,000 per family has been budgeted already once they are allowed to go back to Marawi to help them start anew,” Taguiwalo said.

The DSWD also prepared Ramadan food pack that will be distributed starting Monday, which is the end of Ramadan.

According to Taguiwalo, the DBM has downloaded P662,500,000 to the DSWD as of June 6, enabling it to purchase the needed family food packs as well as to augment hygiene kits and non-food items.

She added that the private sector and representatives from different volunteer groups have been assisting the government in the relief effort. Among those in the field include humanitarian groups, the International Red Cross, UN-related agencies, and Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, which offered free hauling of cargoes to Iligan City.

San Miguel Foundation also offered toll-free passage of DSWD’s cargo trucks going to Mindanao at STAR Tollway and SLEX. Also, UP students in Manila and the Visayas initiated relief efforts for the evacuees.###PND