PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said terrorism dominated the talks during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Manila.
In a news conference at the conclusion of the Asean meetings, Duterte said world leaders were concerned about the threat of terrorism in the Southeast Asian region.
“Half of the time during the interventions [what was being discussed]actually was the issue of terrorism. Everybody’s scared with the new vogue of dying suddenly in the explosion or whatever,” he said.
Duterte said the leaders of the 10-member regional bloc and their dialogue partners, including China and the United States, vowed to work together to combat terror groups.
“We vowed to work closely. We discussed it in confidential meetings. We have agreed on so many things to enhance the defense of our country. But, unfortunately, these are the things which I cannot really talk about in public,” he said.
The Philippine government itself had just concluded a five-month battle against terrorists who occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
Duterte said many of the leaders sent their condolences over the deaths of over a hundred soldiers and congratulated the Philippine military for winning the war.
“All leaders of state there mentioned the heroism of our soldiers and policemen,” he said.
The President then thanked the leaders of Japan, Russia, the US and China, for their support to the Philippines during the war, and in the rehabilitation of Marawi.
Duterte said that with the collection of billions of pesos in unpaid taxes, economic advisers had assured him the government would be able to rebuild the Islamic city.
“I told the Marawi guys, ‘I will rebuild Marawi,’” the President said.
The five-month long siege in Marawi ended on October 23, leaving over 1,000 people dead, mostly terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced. It also left the city, considered one of the centers of Islamic faith in Mindanao, in ruins.