PH, France to 'intensify' anti-terror cooperation
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines and France have agreed to step up their cooperation in the fight against terrorism as their leaders called on the international community to close their ranks against the scourge.
President Benigno Aquino III and French President Francois Hollande made the call on Thursday, February 26, in the wake of of growing concerns over "lone wolves" – terrorists who act on their own and do not associate themselves with particular groups.
"We…agreed to intensify the call on the international community to work together in order to fight terrorism in all its forms, as a common scourge to mankind," Aquino said in a statement at his joint news conference with Hollande, who arrived in Manila that day for a two-day state visit.
Hollande said that he initiated the topic with Aquino during their bilateral meeting.
"We have decided to intensify our cooperation in the fight against terrorism because terrorism can strike everywhere. We can exchange information. We can monitor certain individuals. We can act in such a way as to eradicate the causes of terrorism," Hollande said.
The French leader added, "President Aquino and I are in a complete agreement on the fight against terrorism."
Hollande's state visit comes in the wake of the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly publication, in Paris.
Aquino also stressed the importance of intelligence sharing. "A common problem between France and the Philippines is the presence of terrorists that are not organized or not falling into previously organized groups that somehow somebody has intelligence on," Aquino said.
"The worry in our case is we call them 'lone wolf;' somebody who comes in, who is not in the database of anybody, who has been radicalized sometimes by the Internet and doing these nefarious deeds," he added.
He said in view of this, "exchanges of intelligence, exchanges of best practices [have] been discussed between France and ourselves to fortify our respective countries with regards to terrorism."
In his toast at the state dinner in honor of Hollande, Aquino said their countries have a "brotherhood pledged to protecting the principles that serve as the firm foundation of our nations: the belief in the democratic way of life, the pursuit of justice and the preservation of one’s rights, and the promotion of the rule of law."
"Thus, I could not help but be appalled when I heard of the tragedy that struck the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. Such savagery should have no place in this world, and my countrymen and I are in full support of the people of France, as you uphold human dignity and work to protect the blessings of democracy," he said.
Aquino added that the Philippines will rally behind France in its efforts against terrorism, and its other global acvodacies.
"Whether in denying haven to those who seek to undermine freedom and justice through extremist means, in fighting for peace and order, or in building a world that is more resilient and more inclusive, your efforts truly reflect your deep commitment to the principles that we share," he said.
The Philippine leader added, "I assure you: I am one with you in treading this path towards a better, more sustainable future for both our peoples and the wider community of nations."
The Philippines itself is battling to rid the country of foreign terrorists in the Philippines who have been in the country for decades.
On January 25, a manhunt for top Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (alias Marwan) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, resulted in the death of 65 people, including 44 elite cops. – Rappler.com