Duterte, Indonesia’s Widodo to Discuss Security Issues

President Rodrigo Duterte.



Manila, Philippines, 27 Ramadan 1438/22 June 2017 (MINA) — President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to talk to Indonesia President Joko Widodo on Wednesday to discuss security issues as fighting between government troops and Islamist terrorists in Marawi City dragged into its fifth week, Philstar reported.

Duterte said he would ask Widodo about the Indonesian fighters said to have fought alongside the Maute group, a band of terrorists aligned with the extremist Islamic State (IS, also Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS).

“I’ll be talking to Widodo tomorrow (June 21). He will ask questions and I have so many questions for him,” the president told reporters in Cagayan de Oro.

“I think most of the foreign fighters were Indonesians,” he added.

Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella could not elaborate on the conversation.

“I’m sure they’ll be talking security matters, but we don’t have the details of the plans for that conversation,” Abella said in a press conference Wednesday.

Duterte said he was disappointed that Maranaos allowed IS fighters to enter Marawi City to introduce their extremist ideology.

“My greatest resentment towards Maranao is they allowed the entry of the ISIS. Maute started as a thriving business of shabu and they have been selling shabu all over Mindanao and the Visayas,” the president said.

Samira Gutoc, a peace advocate and a former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, has disputed this, saying the Mautes were not part of the mainstream in Marawi City. She added that neither was Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is not even Maranao.

“He’s (Hapilon) not received at all. We don’t know about him. We don’t know this Maute’s campaign. They’re not in mainstream. They’re not in public platforms. They’re definitely strangers,” she said in an interview on ANC.

Details of the conversation between Duterte and Widodo were not yet available as of press time.

Last month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said eight foreign jihadists had been killed in separate clashes between government troops and Maute militants in Marawi City. Of the slain foreign fighters, two were Saudis, two were Malaysians, two were Indonesians, one was a Yemeni and one was a Chechen.

During the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this month, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that there are about 1,200 IS members operating in the Philippines. The Philippine military has not verified the information.

The conversation between Duterte and Widodo comes two days after the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia launched joint border patrols to strengthen the drive against terrorism, piracy and other transitional crimes. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)