Manila: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members will make use of lessons learnt from the Philippines’ experience with the Maute-Abu Sayyaf in confronting the rise of violent extremism in the region, Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy said yesterday.
Cuy announced that the regional bloc late last week adopted the ‘Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism’, to counter an emerging threat to the region.
The Manila Declaration was adopted during the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) in Pasay City.
Although the Philippines had been confronting radical extremism for years with the Abu Sayyaf, it had only evolved into an all-out conflict in recent months as extremist fighters took to the streets and actually made efforts to actually hold territory.
Past attacks by similar radical groups had largely utilised guerrilla tactics of quickly seizing an area and then withdrawing when confronted by a bigger force.
Maute fighters, backed by Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, seized the entire city of Marawi on May 23. Government forces were able to expel much of the heavily armed extremists, but at the cost of the lives of more than a hundred Filipino soldiers and dozens of civilians.
Cuy said lessons learnt from such incidents would be valuable not just for the Philippines but also for other Asean countries confronting similar threats from religious extremists.
“From our experiences in the past, we have learnt that we can achieve greater heights when we collaborate with one another. We should therefore exhibit the same cooperation to counter the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism in our region,” said Cuy, adding “the Manila Declaration firms up this partnership to counter these threats.”
Through the Manila Declaration, the AMMTC leaders vowed to counter radicalisation and violent extremism, in particular those that lead to terrorism “in all forms and manifestations, through the prevention of radicalisation, financing, recruitment, and mobilisation of individuals into terrorist groups”.
The AMMTC leaders also acknowledged that emphasis should be on the aspect of “de-radicalisation” in rehabilitation and reintegration programmes as part of comprehensive measures in countering terrorism.
A sustained and proactive approach through capacity-building programmes focused on promoting peace education also plays an important role in countering radical violent extremism.
“In adopting the Manila Declaration, the AMMTC heads reaffirmed their commitment to the aims and objectives of the Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of the Moderates adopted on 27 April 2015 and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration in Combating Transnational Crime on 30 September 2015,” Cuy said.