Extremism, drug problem, piracy is center stage in Asean
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday sees the need to highlight the growing problem of extremism, narcotics trade, and piracy during the twoday meeting of Southeast Asian leaders and their dialogue partners that will be held in Manila.
At the opening rites of 31st Association of Southeast Asian summit, Duterte acknowledged the importance to discuss with world leaders the pressing security issues that different nations are facing.
"Your Majesty, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to emphasize that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful disucssion on matters of regional and international importance," the President said before the heads of state.
Duterte urged heads of state to seek for remedial ways to counter security threats that pose dangers, if not addressed.
Duterte stressed that terrorism and violent extremism "endanger the peace, stability and security of our region because these threats know no boundaries."
It could be recalled that on May 23, Islamic State-linked Maute militants laid siege to Marawi City in a bid to establish a caliphate for Southeast Asia fighters.
The extremist group's plan was however foiled after the Philippines state forces killed infamous terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the frontrunners of Marawi siege.
A month before the Asean summit, Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City from the hands of the terrorists following the death of Hapilon and Maute.
In his speech, Duterte personally thanked Asean member-states and other world leaders who extended assistance to the Philippine government to combat terrorism in the southern Philippines.
"Less than a month ago, Philippine government forces liberated the city of Marawi from terrorist groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State," the President said.
"We thank our international partners for providing assistance in dealing with the situation in Marawi City. Our Asean brothers provided support by sending relief items for the benefit of the internally displaced persons while others provided valuabale assistance and bolstered our military campaign," he said.
Duterte, who continues to push for relentless campaign against narcotics trade despite global criticisms, said that drug menace "continues to endanger the very fabric of our societies."
He added that piracy and armed robbery in the seas "put a dent on our the growth and disrupt the stability of both regional and global commerce."
"These and other issues are high on the agenda of our meetings, along with the other non-traditional security issues that challenge the prosperity of our economies, the integirty of our institutions, and more importantly, the safety of our people," Duterte said. (SunStar Philippines/Ruth Abbey Gita)