Manila keen to learn from S'pore's terror fight

The Philippines can learn from Singapore's experience in fighting terrorism via "proactive" methods that have steered Singaporeans away from radical views, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.

"We could certainly learn from Singapore's own approaches in countering violent extremism, specifically in the way you deal with Islamic schools and returning foreign fighters," Mr Lorenzana said, as he welcomed Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is on a two-day working visit to the Philippines.

Mr Lorenzana said the Philippines is keen on studying Singapore's "methods of proactively preventing your citizens from imbibing radical views and in reforming those who have been radicalised".

A statement from Singapore's Ministry of Defence said Dr Ng received "a detailed update on the security situation in the southern Philippines and the Sulu Sea, and the progress of the military campaign against terrorist groups there".

Philippine security forces have been fighting for a ninth week Muslim militants who stormed the southern city of Marawi and declared it a "province" of the ultra-radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Lorenzana and Dr Ng then discussed "ideas on enhancing defence cooperation and how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) could support the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its counter-terrorism efforts", the ministry said.

Mr Lorenzana said the Philippines is keen on studying Singapore's "methods of proactively preventing your citizens from imbibing radical views and in reforming those who have been radicalised".

A source privy to the talks said Dr Ng informed Mr Lorenzana that the SAF could help train Philippine troops in fighting militants in an urban setting.

"They have a mock-up village for training on urban warfare," the source said.

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Manila keen to learn from S'pore's terror fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe