PHL, Australia reaffirm commitment to war vs terror

Cayetano, Turnbull discuss human rights, the West Philippine Sea, others in bilateral meet in Sydney

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano joins Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ASEAN heads of state in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Counter-Terrorism between ASEAN and Australia. (photo from RTVM’s post)

(Eagle News) – The Philippines and Australia reaffirmed their commitment  to fight terrorism, and discussed human rights, rule of law,  the West Philippine Sea, and people-to-people relations in their bilateral meeting in Sydney, Australia.

This was according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who represented President Rodrigo Duterte during the bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  on Saturday, March 17, on the sidelines of the special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Australia.

With Cayetano were Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, Ambassador Minda Cruz and other officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

“We had very good discussions with (Turnbull) where we both reaffirmed, among others, our desire to strengthen our cooperation in the fight against violent extremism,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano said he expressed the country’s appreciation for the counterterrorism training that Australia has been providing to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He said Australia has provided as many as 3,000 Filipino troops with much needed skills in urban warfare, and  provided a surveillance aircraft that allowed Philippine troops to flush out Islamic militants from Marawi.

He said Turnbull has also offered help in the rebuilding of city in Mindanao.

“The Philippines cannot fight and win this war on its own. We need to work with the rest of the international community in the fight against terrorism,” Cayetano said.

The Philippines, like other ASEAN leaders and Australia, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation (MOU) to Counter International Terrorism at the summit’s main event.

The agreement contained practical measures to strengthen counter terrorism efforts  that include capacity-building in detecting and disrupting terrorist technology and financing.

Human rights, rule of law

According to Cayetano, he also discussed with the Prime Minister issues on human rights and rule of law, as well as the West Philippine Sea, and people-to-people relations.

Cayetano said he thanked Turnbull for Australia’s fair approach to the human rights issue and welcomed his offer to assist the Philippines in further strengthening its rule of law efforts.