ASEAN to reaffirm 'whole-of-nation' approach vs terror, extremism

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2017 05:00 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2017 01:57 AM

MANILA - Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will reaffirm the importance and effectiveness of the "whole-of-nation approach" over "a purely military option" in combating terrorism and violent extremism, an initial draft of their joint statement said.

A draft of the joint communiqué of the upcoming ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) that the ABS-CBN News reviewed mentioned ways such as "preventive education, involvement of women and youth and civil society, promotion of peace and moderation as a counter-narrative, and more effective use of social media in countering terrorist messages online." 

In the draft document, the ministers are also expected to reaffirm their commitment to implement "measures and counter-measures at the national, regional, and sub-regional levels under the ASEAN Convention on Counter- Terrorism (ACCT), the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the U.N. Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism."

The foreign ministers are set to meet in Manila on Saturday, even as government troops continue offensives against Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City.

Fighting in the Islamic city has been going on for more than two months. The violence prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under martial law, a declaration affirmed by the Supreme Court and extended by Congress until the end of the year on his request.

The long-drawn conflict in Marawi has put a spotlight on the rise of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, known to be expanding its foothold in the region amid losses in Iraq and Syria. 

In June, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia launched joint patrols in waters within their adjacent borders to prevent the movement of jihadists, among others. 

The Philippines hosts the ASEAN summits this year, when the international bloc celebrates its 50th founding anniversary.

Apart from the ministers' meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano would also chair the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ meeting, with Japan, China and Korea; the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which includes ASEAN members and eight other non-ASEAN partners; and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a key multilateral security dialogue.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to attend the ARF, and will discuss "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counter-terrorism," according to the State Department.