Malacañang disclosed on Monday the United States government would provide P300-million intelligence support to the Philippines to boost the latter’s capabilities in fending off terrorism.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace welcomed the US’ multi-million-peso intel support, adding such commitment showed Manila was in good terms with Washington.
“We welcome the United States’ commitment in fighting terrorism. This shows that our military alliance with the United States remains strong,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
According to the Palace official, the country needed all the help it could get to combat terrorists, stressing that “terrorism knows no boundaries, politics, religion, and creed.”
“It is the new evil in the world that strikes at every country and every continent. We need all the help as every member-country in the United Nations needs the assistance and cooperation of each other to combat and crush terrorism,” he said.
In its latest quarterly report on the country, the US Department of Defense said it was supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines in acquiring intelligence reports on terrorist groups in the country.
It also considered Abu Sayyaf Group sub-unit commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan as the new leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the Philippines.
The US’ vow to assist the country in its anti-terrorism campaign came even after the Philippine government had declared martial rule in Mindanao.
Despite its imposition, several explosions still rocked some parts of the war-torn region in the past weeks.
Panelo admitted that “terrorists have gained a foothold” in the southernmost part of the country, unleashing bombs that took the lives of soldiers and civilians.
However, even with the terroristic acts, the public refused to be intimated by fear and anxiety, he said.
“They [civilians], however, refused to be intimidated and cowed as they exercised their right of suffrage in the just concluded plebiscite,” Panelo added.
The Palace official then reassured the public that the Duterte administration has control on the situation, adding that with the US’ aid, the security of the public has been “enhanced.”
“Our armed forces are relentlessly pursuing the mass murderers even as some of them have been criminally charged and presently detained,” Panelo said.
“We assure the nation that security for our people has been enhanced. We call our people to be vigilant and report to the authorities any suspicious activity by any person or group of persons in their communities that may tend to endanger their lives, limbs, and properties,” he added.