Jakarta. Indonesia and the Philippines have reaffirmed their commitment to work together to combat terrorism in their region, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said during a press conference in Manila on Thursday (22/06).
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo made a call to Duterte on Wednesday evening to discuss threats posed by Islamic State-affiliated Maute militants — who had surprised the Philippine authorities with a brazen takeover of parts of Marawi City in the southern Philippines — to neighboring countries.
The Islamic militants have now held out for five weeks against sustained pressure from Philippine security forces.
Marawi City is just five hours away by traditional fishing boat from Indonesia’s Morotai Island in the province of North Maluku.
"[Jokowi and Duterte] reaffirmed the need to step up cooperation to address the threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism," spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is scheduled to meet her Malaysian and Philippine counterparts, Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman and Alan Cayetano in Manila on Thursday, where a trilateral meeting on sub-regional security will take place to address urgent security risks.
According to Abella, the trilateral meeting aims to foster cooperation on countering terrorism among regional states. He also said the Philippine government is committed to work closely together with Indonesia and other like-minded states to address security issues.
Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the meeting will be attended by foreign ministers and defense ministers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Indonesian National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and the head of the country's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Suhardi Alius, will also be attending.
Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said on Tuesday Indonesia will "focus on a soft power approach to prevent radicalism and stop terrorism," for example by conducting economic and women’s empowerment programs.
Indonesia believes empowering women will make a big difference in combating terrorism since they wield real power in families and can prevent the spread of radicalism among young people.