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Duterte eyes joint task force to stop Daesh in region
By Manolo B. Jara September 04, 2017
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MANILA: President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte revealed he would meet with leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia to formalise an agreement of establishing a joint anti-Daesh task force to stop its spread in the region.

Duterte confirmed he would meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister to formalise the agreement, noting that with the major setbacks it suffered in the Middle East, Daesh might move its forces to Southeast Asia.

The meeting, he said, could be held either on the Malaysian island state of Sabah or in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta but he did not say when.

“In all probability, it will be a joint task force. And I will open the Philippine borders to the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities,” Duterte said.

Duterte did not elaborate but he was apparently referring to the possibility of a “hot pursuit” by Malaysian and Indonesian authorities in their chase of Daesh terrorists entering the region.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia belong to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that also includes Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma)

The three countries earlier agreed to establish a joint naval and air patrol in their common maritime borders to stop the entry of terrorists and groups engaged in piracy and similar crimes.

They also agreed for a joint control in the movement of terrorist funds, weapons and even social media “disinformation.”

In a related development, Secretary Ernesto Abella on Sunday expressed optimism on the impending capture of a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf terror group that joined in the siege of Marawi City on May 23.

“We will get Isnilon Hapilon. Our forces are hot on their heels and it is only a matter of time before we get him,” Abella told Malacanang Palace reporters.

Abella said that based on the latest intelligence information, Hapilon could still be in Marawi City where he was reportedly ordered to establish a caliphate as their appointed Daesh chief in Southeast Asia.

The military also confirmed the involvement of Daesh-linked foreign terrorists in the siege of Maawi that prompted Duterte to declare martial law over the whole of restive Mindanao.

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