THE Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed that aside from bullets, the socio-economic development of residents who have been traumatized by terrorism were paramount in combating the expanding influence of groups like the IS (Islamic State) in Southeast Asia.
“We agreed to help each other in socio economic development to stop extremism not only by bullets but also by ideology,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in an interview after the trilateral meeting at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City on Thursday.
Cayetano said the Philippines needed the help of Malaysia and Indonesia in destroying the narrative of extremism that sowed division and conflict between Muslims and Christians.
“So with the help of Malaysia and Indonesia we will be able to combat ISIS not only through arms but also through education and communication,” the foreign affairs secretary said.
For the Philippines, Cayetano said, all departments of government — from education, social services, health and livelihood — must come up with their plans to help fight extremist ideology by showing young people hurting and suffering that there were other ideas that were not extreme and violent.
He warned that more attacks were likely to happen and with more participants, the risks were bigger.
Cayetano claimed that Southeast Asia was a potential ISIS target and the vulnerability of the Philippines compared to other countries could be higher because of the degree of freedom in the country.
He said extremists may choose to go to smaller provinces or smaller areas in Mindanao, radicalize young Muslims, sell portions of their land and convince non-Muslims that this was “legitimate jihad”.
“So this is what we would do to prevent Southeast Asia from falling into the hands of extremist so that they will not have foothold in radicalizing,” Cayetano added.