Lorenzana welcomes Singapore’s military aid offer in ongoing Marawi tiff

MANILA--- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has expressed his appreciation for Singapore's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) offer and other forms of assistance for the ongoing conflict with remaining Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

Singapore's offer of ISR help, transport of relief goods and rehabilitation for the war-torn city came last Tuesday as Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen visited the country Tuesday.

Agreeing in principle as regards to Singapore's offer, Lorenzana instructed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to examine the ISR capabilities that Singapore is ready to provide.

Also, Singapore's provision of C-130 to help transport supplies and provision of training regarding building up cities are things the AFP could readily avail of, the DND chief stressed.

"Violent extremism has certainly taken stage. And our own fight against it is taking place as we speak. Thank you for the support manifested by no less than your presence here," Lorenzana earlier said to the Singaporean official.

The conflict in Marawi City started when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and ISIS "emir" in Southeast Asia last May 23.

"Indeed, this is a problem that we all share and our effort should likewise be collaborative. We could certainly learn from Singapore's own approaches in countering violent extremism, specifically in the way you deal with Islamic schools and returning foreign fighters. We are certainly interested in your methods of proactively preventing your citizens from imbibing radical views and in reforming those who have been radicalized. I look forward to further discussing these during our bilateral meeting," he added.

In the same visit, Ng also offered the utilization of Singapore's Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Center to galvanize foreign contributions for the reconstruction of Marawi.

Originally put up to coordinate foreign assistance to Southeast Asian countries devastated by natural calamities, Ng said that the center could likewise be used for Marawi's rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, both defense ministers expressed their respective support to each other's chairmanship of ASEAN.

The Philippines is ASEAN's chair for 2017, something it will pass on to Singapore which will chair ASEAN next year.

Lorenzana acknowledged that coordination between the current and incoming chairs, like what the Philippines and Singapore are doing, is a best practice that could be emulated by succeeding chairs of ASEAN.

This is to ensure continuity of programs and projects launched by an ASEAN chairman.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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