From the Daily Tribune (Aug 13): Joint Asean bid vs IS threat set
MARITIME, AERIAL PATROLS RAMPED UP
A regional effort to stem the growing Islamic State (IS) threat in the region is shaping up as a result of the joint statement among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its dialog partners that included China urging multinational cooperation against terrorism.
The anti-terror effort starts with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines expanding the joint maritime patrols to include aerial surveillance operations, Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said.
Hishamuddin was quoted in a Malaysian publication as saying plans were also underway to invite Brunei and Singapore security patrols as part of measures to counter the IS threat in the region.
“If possible, we would want to get all 10 Asean nations involved as well,” he said after a Battle of Honor ceremony to pay tribute to servicemen involved in the operations against Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu in 2013.
He said it was imperative for Asean countries to prevent the IS from expanding in the region.
“The IS flag is being flown for the first time is this region,” he said referring to the IS militant insurgency in Marawi City that has stretched into its third month.
Hishamuddin said Malaysia was considering acquiring the P8 Orion surveillance aircraft from Japan for the purpose of air patrols.
He said the Philippine government is expected to call for a meeting with defense ministers from the three countries to discuss further joint patrols.
A series of high-level meetings in the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Manila among members of the bloc and its dialog partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia resulted in a joint statement sending a strong message to the the international community urging concerted efforts on counter-terrorism.
“Cognizant of the fact that radicalization and violent extremism conducive to terrorism are common scourges of mankind, we reaffirmed our commitment to combat this plague through effective implementation of measures and counter- measures at the national, regional, and sub-regional levels,’ said the Asean foreign ministers in a joint communique.
Broader approach vs terrorism
Under the Asean Convention on Counter-Terrorism (ACCT), the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, the regional bloc underscored the importance of a “whole-of-nation approach” as opposed to a purely military option in combating the problem.
The chairman’s statement at the conclusion of Asean Plus Three, a forum which consists the bloc’s members with Japan, Republic of Korea and China agreed on initiatives to address terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.
The Asean members and the three other nations committed to share information on terrorism and transnational criminal organizations, and the implementation of measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
Meanwhile, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) which is made up of a larger number of nations condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Referring to the ACCT, the ARF reaffirmed its strong commitment to enhance cooperation and undertake effective measures in countering terrorism which covers the prevention and suppression of terrorist acts on the basis of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).
It stressed the need to address conditions conducive to terrorism and the spread of terrorist ideology, including through the terrorist use of Internet and social media, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution, 2354 (2017) in support of a comprehensive international framework on countering terrorist propaganda.
The ARF is comprised of 27 members, including the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), the 10 ASEAN dialogue partners Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States), Papua New Guinea, an ASEAN observer, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Medals for wounded troops
A total of 107 soldiers who were wounded while fighting Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City and other areas in Mindanao, were decorated for their gallantry during a short ceremony at the Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last August 10.
In a statement, Philippine Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, said the soldiers were presented the Army’s Wounded Personnel Medal during the ceremony that was led by Army Support Command head, Maj. Gen. Elmer Pabale.
Tiongson said that through the medal, the Army recognizes the bravery, professionalism, and heroism of the soldiers, who continue to be a source of national pride.
“The Army also extended its gratitude to all its personnel in Marawi City and all over the country who continue to risk their lives to achieve just and lasting peace and stability for the country,” he said.
Latest reports showed the number of fatalities in the Marawi crisis has been placed at 552 Maute terrorists, 128 government troops, and 45 civilians. Some 1,728 civilians have been rescued from the clutches of the enemy and about 610 weapons have been seized from the terrorists.