DAVAO CITY, Philippines — While offers of support are certainly welcome, the Philippine government and its regional partners are able to handle the threat of extremist terror groups without the help of western countries such as the US and Australia, said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
“Like the President said, we’re quite capable at this stage. We welcome any support, but at this stage we take the lead, along with the regional states around us. And so we call it grace or what. But the resilience of the Filipino, we have actually shown that we can actually back up our statements of an independent foreign stance,” Abella said on Friday’s Mindanao Hour.
This statement comes in response to offers of assistance from Australia and calls from US lawmakers for the US military to take a bigger role in fighting the local Isis-affiliated Maute group.
Abella said the Palace has not officially accepted the offer of the Australian government to fly two surveillance planes over Marawi. However, Abella said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is already in close coordination with his Australian counterparts.
Abella insisted that the level of assistance given by the western countries were strictly limited in terms of technical assistance.
Previously, the military claimed that there were no American soldiers fighting alongside the army in Marawi.
Meanwhile, Abella announced the consummation of a trilateral cooperation agreement between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Abella said the meeting attended by military and intelligence officials from the three nations weas “fruitful,” and that the three countries had agreed to “jointly develop and implement counter terrorism and measures and strategies.”
“Let us underline that their joint aim, the end game is to prevent the establishment of operational bases in Southeast Asia,” he said.
The agreement discussed was part of a trilateral cooperation that would allow authorities from the three nations to go after terror groups across national territories.
One of such agreements was already launched on Tuesday, wherein the coast guard of the three nations will cooperate to secure their borders.
On Tuesday’s Mindanao Hour briefing, Army spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said authorities of one nation may launch hot pursuit operations even inside the territory of the other cooperating country.
“Bahagi ‘yan ng pagpapatibay nitong ating mga lagusan at daanan ng mga nationals from the different countries that are involved in this partnership. Hopefully, ma-address natin ‘yung porous borders natin sa bagay na ‘yan (That is part of our efforts to fortify the thoroughfares of foreign nationals involved in this partnership. Hopefully through this we will be able to address our porous borders),” he said. (davaotoday.com)