MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to ramp up joint efforts against terrorism amid the growing threat of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in Southeast Asia.
Malacañang said on Thursday, June 22, that Duterte received a phone call from the Indonesian leader, popularly known as Jokowi, at around 7:30 pm on Wednesday, June 21.
“The call was productive and fruitful. They both reaffirmed the need to step up cooperation to address threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace news briefing on Thursday.
Jokowi also reiterated a vow to help the Philippines address terrorism threats even as clashes between the terrorist Maute Group and Philippine security forces continued in Marawi City. (READ: Tent cities, mass graves readied as gov’t troops clear Marawi)
“President Widodo reafffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to support the Philippines in countering terrorism including restoring peace and stability in the southern Philippines,” said Abella.
In previous meetings between the two leaders, terrorism and security issues were among their main topics of discussion. Duterte went to Indonesia in September for a state visit, while Jokowi returned the gesture with a trip to the Philippines in April.
Their phone conversation happened the night before the trilateral meeting of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia on counter-terrorism.
“Both noted the importance of the trilateral meeting between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to be held on June 22 in Manila. The meeting also [aims] at fostering cooperation on countering terrorism among regional neighboring states,” Abella said.
Indonesia and the Philippines have been victimized by terror attacks in recent years. Indonesian defense officials have said around 40 of the foreign fighters in the Philippines who have pledged allegiance to ISIS are Indonesians.
At least two Indonesian foreign fighters were killed in the Marawi clashes. – Rappler.com
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