MANILA – The Philippines has always been watchful of local extremist groups out to disrupt peace and order through terror attacks, the country's defense chief said on Friday.
"Taliban or no Taliban, we have always considered local extremism as a big concern. Afghanistan is not the only country that could provide encouragement or inspiration to local terrorists," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
He was asked whether local extremists will be emboldened after the Taliban has successfully taken control of Afghanistan early this August.
Lorenzana said the Philippines has entered into agreements with its immediate neighbors in Southeast Asia to secure its southern borders and share information regarding the movement of terrorists.
"We have agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia regarding securing our borders proximate to each other and to share information on terrorist movements with each other," Lorenzana said.
He was referring to the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement with Malaysia and Indonesia as a big help in securing the Philippines' southern borders.
Lorenzana said the arrangement is responsible for reducing kidnapping-for-ransom incidents and other crimes in Sulu waters.
Lorenzana has earlier assured that the Department of National Defense is constantly monitoring events happening in Afghanistan, saying this was where terrorist leaders Abdujarak Abubakar and Khadaffy Janjalani trained before forming the Abu Sayyaf Group in 1991. (PNA)