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Duterte sounds alarm bells over terror threat in Southeast Asia

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday sounded alarm bells over the threats of violent extremism which he said is endangering the peace, stability and security of the Southeast Asian due to its borderless nature.

Duterte said, “Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to emphasize that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance.”

Duterte said this even as he expressed gratitude to Asean member states and other international partners for their assistance in the recently concluded campaign against the Maute Group in Marawi City.

“Less than a month ago, Philippine government forces liberated the city of Marawi from terrorist groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Resolute, we are now in the process of helping people back on their feet to reclaim their lives,” Duterte said during the opening ceremony of the 31st Asean Summit at the Cultural Center.

“Our Asean brothers provided support by sending relief items for the benefit of the internally displaced persons while others provided valuable assistance and bolstered our military campaign,” he said.

Another key concern, he said, is piracy which is putting a dent on the Philippines’ growth and contributing to the disruption of stability of both regional and global commerce.

Also, Duterte said the menace of illegal drug trade continues to endanger the very fabric of societies.

“These and other issues are high on the agenda of our meetings along with the other non-traditional security issues that challenge the prosperity of our economies, the integrity of our institutions, and more importantly, the safety of our people,” Duterte said.

He said he and other Asean leaders would be looking into the progress of the regional bloc’s community building efforts.

Also, Duterte said he was pleased to announce that Asean member states have come to an agreement on the protection and promotion of rights of migrant workers.

He said Asean leaders would sign a landmark document that would strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services.

He said other “deliverables” that would see the fruition include those concerning health, women and the youth, terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism, trafficking, poverty alleviation, food security, coastal and marine environment, and the pursuit of innovation for our economies, among others. (pna)


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