President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to talk to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday to discuss the reported presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao.
Speaking to reporters in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday night, Duterte said he was scheduled to talk to Widodo on the phone about the Indonesian official’s claim that around 1,200 ISIS operatives were in the country.
“I’ll be talking to Widodo tomorrow [Wednesday]. He will ask questions and I have so many questions for him kasi ang karamihan yata diyan na foreigners is mga Indonesians [because a majority of the foreigners there are Indonesians],” Duterte said in a chance interview on Tuesday.
Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has said that there were about 1,200 Islamic fighters in the Philippines, including 40 Indonesians.
Ryacudu made the statement amid an ongoing battle between government troops and ISIS-linked Maute group in Marawi City.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the death of foreign fighters in the Marawi siege that included Indonesians.
The military has said that foreign terrorists were allegedly aiding local bandits, led by Isnilon Hapilon, allegedly the designated ISIS leader in the Philippines.
In Malacanang, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Duterte and Widodo would likely talk about security issues.
“I’m sure they’ll be talking security matters, but we don’t have the details of the plans for that conversation,” Abella told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday.
Abella however could not say if Duterte or Widodo initiated the phone call.
“I said we don’t have the details… there’s an intention to talk,” he said.