By Alexis Romero
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is seeking closer cooperation with Malaysia and Indonesia in the fight against terrorism amid President Duterte’s revelation that the leader of the Islamic State (IS) himself ordered the attacks in Marawi City, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday.
Cayetano said the Marawi siege had affirmed Duterte’s warning that IS extremists would target Southeast Asian countries after staging atrocities in the Middle East.
“Unfortunately, we are the first (to be attacked). We want to cooperate very well with Indonesia and Malaysia so they won’t suffer at the hands of extremists,” Cayetano told reporters after the Independence Day rites in Rizal Park.
“The President knew from the start of his term that as allies become successful in Syria and Iraq, the IS will be looking for a land base and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are potential targets for them,” Cayetano added.
He said Indonesia has proposed a conference with Malaysia to discuss the situation in Mindanao and what the three countries can do to address the threat.
“Let me thank the Indonesian foreign minister for caring about what is happening in the Philippines and being concerned and trying to put this together. We will be able to respond to them in a day or two and announce to you the conference to be held,” the foreign affairs chief said.
Cayetano noted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Russia have expressed support for efforts to fight terrorism in the region.
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