President Rodrigo Roa Duterte looks on as Indonesia President Joko Widodo signs the guestbook upon entering the Malacañan Palace on April 28, 2017 for a bilateral meeting. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is opening the country’s borders to its neighbors to help hunt down jihadist militants that have been spreading terror in Southeast Asia.

“We have agreed that we talk, the three of us,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview Sunday midnight, September 3.

The president was referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Rajib Razak, who earlier have agreed to create a joint task force comprised of troops coming from the three countries.

An agreement to formalize the said task force is yet to be done, said Duterte.

The said joint task force would give access to Malaysian and Indonesian authorities on the Philippine border to enable them to run after suspected terrorists.

During the trilateral meeting of the three countries held in Manila on June 22, the states reaffirmed their willingness to jointly develop counter-terror measures and strategies.

The Philippines and the two countries have previously agreed to ran after the Abu Sayyaf group abducting foreign nationals in their borders.

Duterte said the meeting might probably be held in Sabah or Jakarta.

Philippine troops have been fighting against members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group that has dragged on for more than three months.

Duterte, the military’s commander in chief through a martial law he declared in Mindanao, frequently visits government forces fighting on the ground to boost their morale.He vowed to regularly do so until the fighting is over. (with reports from Mick Basa /

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