Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to join forces and pool intelligence as threats of terrorism loom over Southeast Asia during a trilateral meeting on security last June 22, 2017 in Manila.
The ongoing crisis in Marawi City in the southern Philippines has prompted concerns of militant expansion throughout Southeast Asia. The three countries have teamed up, with foreign ministers and defense officials working together “to share information, track communications, and crack down on the flow of arms, fighters, and money, amid what experts say is the biggest security threat facing Southeast Asia in decades,” according to abc.net.au.
In a press briefing in Davao City, Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said: “Foreign, military, intelligence officials from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia had a fruitful and productive discussion on a trilateral cooperation aimed at preventing extremists and terrorists from establishing operational bases in Southeast Asia,” as reported by Philippine Star.
He added the three countries have agreed to cooperate with each other “to work together to jointly develop and implement counterterrorism and measures and strategies.”
The battle between government forces and the terrorist group began more than five weeks ago. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano expressed his concern saying: “We don’t want that to happen in Southeast Asia nor anywhere else in the world. But the reality is while ISIS loses ground in Iraq and Syria, some of these jihadists, extremists will be looking for land bases outside Iraq and Syria,” as quoted by ABS-CBN News.
Accordingly, the three countries aim to address the root causes of terrorism as well as the underlying conditions of extremism including poverty, illegal drugs, crime and social injustice.
The operartion also aims to contain the “spread of terrorism and terrorism-related content in cyberspace, particularly social media; and preventing and suppressing the exploitation of technology and dissemination of terrorist messages.”
The three countries launched a long-awaited trilateral naval patrol last week, June 21, in an effort to tackle the threat. The Trilateral Maritime Patrol Indomalphi “was initiated and implemented by the governments of the three in order to face the security challenges associated with each country’s border waters,” the joint statement said, as quoted by CNN.
In a recent update from the military, the terror organisation Maute Group is reportedly now facing leadership problems as numbers continue to dwindle and supplies run short.
All ministers have agreed to hold the next meeting in Indonesia.
Image credits: Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News