Duterte, Mahathir discuss violent extremism, sea piracy in meeting

Pia Ranada

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Duterte, Mahathir discuss violent extremism, sea piracy in meeting
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysia's longest-serving leader Mahathir Mohamad spend a bulk of their meeting discussing security concerns

MANILA, Philippines – Security concerns dominated the meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, July 16.

The meeting was held around 3 pm at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya, federal administrative center of Malaysia.

Malacañang said the two leaders discussed terrorism and transnational crimes. The issues were brought up by Duterte. (READ: Where Duterte, Mahathir stand on pressing ASEAN issues)

“President Duterte pointed out the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade,” said a Malacañang statement.

Both the Philippines and Malaysia have suffered from terror attacks, including bombings, and attempts at terror attacks, many of which were perpetrated by extremist groups.

Also present at one part of the meeting were Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

The discussion on efforts to stop piracy is unsurprising given the wave of attacks by pirates in Southeast Asian waters.

Under the Duterte presidency, the Philippines entered into a security initiative with Malaysia and Indonesia to launch joint patrols in Southeast Asian waters plagued by pirates. 

Southeast Asia has become a hotspot for attacks at sea, with the Philippine bandit group Abu Sayyaf being behind many of them. 

The region is home to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes, where billions of dollars worth of cargo – from cars to oil – pass through each year, mostly on their way to some of the world’s biggest consumer markets in Asia.

Malaysia and Mindanao peace

Duterte also thanked Mahathir for Malaysia’s continued support for peace in Mindanao. The Southeast Asian neighbor has served as a third-party facilitator for two decades of peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” reads the Malacañang statement.

While affirming their two nations’ friendship, Duterte and Mahathir pledged to work closely together both on the bilateral level and on the multilateral level, specifically through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the regional bloc to which their countries belong.

The day before their bilateral meeting, the two leaders watched the boxing match between Philippine boxing legend and senator Manny Pacquiao and Argentine fighter Lucas Matthysse.

Right after meeting with Mahathir, Duterte departed for Manila at around 5 pm. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.