MANILA (THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER / ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Australia has reassured the Philippines of its support in combating terrorism and offered to help the Duterte administration improve its law enforcement efforts, according to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
In a statement on Sunday (March 18), Cayetano said Canberra made the commitment during his bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday (March 17) on the sidelines of the special summit of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia in Sydney.
He said the Australian leader offered assistance in rebuilding Marawi City, which was flattened after a five-month gun battle between government forces and members of the ISIS-allied Maute terror group who overran the city in May 2017.
"We had very good discussions with … Turnbull where we both reaffirmed, among others, our desire to strengthen our cooperation in the fight against violent extremism," Cayetano said.
"The Philippines cannot fight and win this war on its own. We need to work with the rest of the international community in the fight against terrorism," he added.
Australia on Saturday also signed an agreement with Asean to cooperate on fighting violent extremism and terrorism financing.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Asean and Australia will work together to develop and implement counter-terrorism legislation consistent with international standards and best practices.
They will also start a workshop on using electronic evidence in investigations and prosecutions of terrorism and transnational crime.
The agreement also paves the way for multilateral exchange programmes for financial intelligence analysts and regional dialogues and forums for Asean and Australian law enforcement partners.