JOLO, Sulu-- Top national security and local government officials have agreed to bring in development and anti-poverty programs as a key to address the underlying factors that breed terrorism in this island province.
The consensus was made following a closed-door meeting on Tuesday among local officials and top security advisers of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, namely National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermohenes Esperon Jr., Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo AAo and senior officials from the Transportation and Health departments.
"There will be a whole government approach to address the situation here in Sulu," Lorenzana said after the closed-door meeting.
He said they will bring to the attention of the President the solutions that they have discussed.
"We should address why kidnapping continues to persist in this area," Lorenzana said.
The Defense chief emphasized that the military operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits will enter a new "angle" aside from the ongoing focused military operation.
"We need to address the problem in another angle. We need to talk with the stakeholders such as local government officials, community leaders, royal families and religious leaders," he said.
Governor Abdusakur Tan II agreed that eradicating poverty is one way to discourage people from joining the Abu Sayyaf Group in its kidnap-for-ransom activities.
"The provincial government is committed to help the military to put an end to terrorism," he said.
Sulu is among the major exporters of seaweed in the country. It also produces agribusiness products such as cassava, abaca and coffee.
Despite its bounty, the island province has been beset with armed conflict due to the presence of Moro rebels and terrorist groups.
For his part, AAo said the military will continue to provide the necessary assets to sustain the fight against the Abu Sayyaf.
He said that a strong commitment from local government officials, community leaders and the entire stakeholders is needed to effectively exterminate the bandit group.
Source: Philippines News Agency