President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have reaffirmed the bilateral cooperation between their countries amid the growing threat posed by militant backers of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, a Malacanang official said on Thursday, June 22.
In a press conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte had a “productive and fruitful” phone conversation with Widodo where they both agreed to step up cooperation to address terrorism and violent extremism.
“The call was productive and fruitful. They both reaffirmed the need to step up cooperation to address threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism,” Abella told reporters.
He said the two leaders also noted the importance of the tripartite meeting among Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, which “intends fostering cooperation on countering terrorism among regional neighboring states.”
“President Widodo reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to support the Philippines in countering terrorism, including restoring peace and stability in the southern Philippines,” Abella said.
Duterte, for his part, welcomed Widodo’s “expression of commitment and emphasized the Philippine government’s full resolve to work closely together with Indonesia and likeminded states to address these issues,” he added.
This came amid the Philippine government’s fight against the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.
The crisis prompted Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao, saying the Philippines was now at the crosshairs of the ISIS, which wants to establish a province in the Philippines as part of its caliphate in Southeast Asia.
The Palace said at least 276 suspected terrorists have been killed since the clashes erupted in May.
The government has lost 67 of its men, while civilian casualties remained at 26.
The military, meanwhile, said some 500 civilians, including potential hostages, remain trapped in the battle zone.