MANILA - (UPDATE) The Philippine government is monitoring a couple of home-bound Filipinos from the Middle East who allegedly have links to the Islamic State, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Lorenzana said Kurdish intelligence provided the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad a "long list of names" of ISIS-inspired fighters returning to their home countries.
"They have a long list of names -- names of Malaysians and Indonesians fighting in Iraq, a couple of Filipinos, who might come back," he said.
Lorenzana, in a press conference Tuesday, said he has a copy of the list which includes the names of 3 Filipinos and around 30 Malaysians.
The Defense chief said even before the Marawi siege, the Philippine government has been coordinating with neighbors like Malaysia and Indonesia to monitor these reported ISIS-inspired fighters.
Locally, Lorenzana said the government is also concerned with other militant organizations such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Abu Sayyaf.
NO MORE MAUTE THREAT?
Asked whether the Maute group which wreaked havoc in Marawi City for months is still a threat, Lorenzana said he thinks the clan is "finished for the moment."
"The Maute family is practically wiped out. The 7 sons of the Mautes’ Farhana and Cayamora were all killed in Marawi so I think the Mautes are finished for the moment," he said.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said they are ready to help Southeast Asian countries in monitoring and stopping these terrorists.
In fact, Payne said Australia has been able to identify a number of
certain individuals and family members who have traveled to the Middle East.
"We are very focused on working with our neighbors in the region, working with the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore," said Payne.
"It's not simple, however, it's a complex task across oceans, seas, land and air domains to try and to do that. But it is important I think for us to work closely together," she added.
Lorenzana and Payne are at the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting in Clark, Pampanga. Philippines and Australia earlier vowed to increase military cooperation against the threats from terrorism.
Under the enhanced training support, the Australian Defense Force will send mobile training teams that will provide urban warfare and counter-terrorism training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Royal Australian Navy will also conduct ship visits to the Philippines which will also involve "a range of cooperative activities to support the development of capacity" of the Philippine Navy.