Lead­ers united in cur­tail­ing ter­ror

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - – Pia Lee-Brago, Paolo Romero

Lead­ers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) and the US have vowed to fight ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

“We are com­mit­ted to cur­tail­ing the threat of ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism through in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion,” said the joint state­ment of the ASEAN-US Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit.

The world lead­ers have agreed on law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion among coun­tries to in­clude the South­east Asia Avi­a­tion and Bor­der Se­cu­rity pro­gram and strength­en­ing of data ex­change with In­ter­pol.

The ASEAN and the US have also com­mit­ted to the full and ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ASEAN Con­ven­tion Against Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons, Es­pe­cially Women and Chil­dren.

The re­gional bloc and the US are also co­op­er­at­ing on cy­ber se­cu­rity and com­bat­ing traf­fick­ing in drugs.

The Philip­pines and the US, on the other hand, com­mit­ted to en­hance their coun­tert­er­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion through con­duct­ing additional ex­er­cises, in­creas­ing in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and ad­dress­ing the driv­ers of con­flict and ex­trem­ism.

ASEAN had reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to fight Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants and pre­vent them from gain­ing a foothold in the re­gion.

The re­gional bloc took note of the cri­sis in Marawi City where the IS-linked Maute group at­tacked and laid siege in the Is­lamic city in the bid to es­tab­lish a caliphate in the South­east Asian re­gion.

More than a thou­sand peo­ple were killed and tens of thou­sands were wounded and left home­less.

The at­tack in Marawi City height­ened con­cern over IS links in South­east Asia with the risk posed to the re­gion by vi­o­lent ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf.

For­mer pres­i­dent and now Pam­panga Rep. Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo cited the suc­cess story of the ASEAN.

She said the ASEAN, since its found­ing 50 years ago, has emerged as a global power in com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism.

“Though made up of small na­tions, ASEAN com­mands re­spect be­cause we know how to ad­vance and sac­ri­fice for the com­mon in­ter­est. And that may well cat­a­pult ASEAN to global lead­er­ship among the panoply of na­tions far be­low the gaze of big power giants. But for us to suc­ceed in that in 50 years, we first need to achieve full in­te­gra­tion by 2025,” Ar­royo told the ASEAN business and in­vest­ment sum­mit at So­laire Ho­tel in Parañaque City.

Ar­royo said ASEAN has grown from five to 10 na­tions that kept the peace, ex­panded economies and have drawn closer to­gether through trade, diplo­macy, cul­tural ex­change and greater con­nec­tiv­ity in the re­gion.

Ar­royo re­called how ASEAN mem­ber states strongly lob­bied for the res­o­lu­tion of the 1980s con­flict in Cam­bo­dia – not yet a mem­ber of the re­gional group­ing at the time – which later led to peace.

Ar­royo said the in­te­gra­tion process must not leave any mem­ber or a seg­ment of the re­gion’s 650-mil­lion pop­u­la­tion at a dis­ad­van­tage as this could prompt the un­der­tak­ing of al­ter­na­tive, of­ten iso­la­tion­ist, and some­times ex­trem­ist and vi­o­lent ide­olo­gies.

“For open economies and free en­ter­prise to win, ev­ery­one must win,” she said.

Ar­royo said in­te­gra­tion pro­vides for more for­eign in­vest­ments. As the sixth largest econ­omy in the world and the world’s fourth largest trader, the ASEAN com­mu­nity stands to at­tract en­ter­prises from within and out­side.

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