MANILA Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reiterated Australia's commitment to fully support the government's Marawi rehabilitation efforts as he agreed further to strengthen cooperation with the Philippines against terrorism, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.
The reaffirmation was made during Turnbull's bilateral meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit in Sydney.
Saying the war against terror could only be won by working together, Cayetano said Manila is looking forward to develop its counterterrorism cooperation with Canberra.
During the crisis in Marawi City, Australia was among the country's partners who extended assistance, by providing surveillance aircraft that allowed government troops to flush out Islamic militants from the city.
Prime Minister Turnbull has reiterated Australia's commitment to help us counter terrorism and asked us what they can do to help in the rebuilding of Marawi, the official bared.
Aside from counterterrorism, Cayetano and Turnbull discussed human rights and rule of law as well as the West Philippine Sea, and people-to-people relations.
Cayetano then extended gratitude to Turnbull for "Australia's fair approach to the human rights issue."
On talks regarding the West Philippine Sea, he welcomed the Australian leader's offer to assist the Philippines in further strengthening its rule of law efforts.
During the meeting, Cayetano also expressed the government's appreciation to the humanitarian assistance that Canberra had extended in the aftermath of several natural calamities in the Philippines.
Cayetano later joined the prime minister and other ASEAN leaders in witnessing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation to Counter International Terrorism between ASEAN and Australia.
The agreement contains practical measures to strengthen counter terrorism efforts among ASEAN member states and Australia that include capacity-building in detecting and disrupting terrorist technology and financing.
In his remarks during the signing ceremony, Turnbull underscored the need for ASEAN and the rest of the region to work together to address the threat posed by violent extremism.
Prime Minister Turnbull said that it is the responsibility of a leader to protect his people and this is just what President Duterte has been doing by going after not only drug lords and other criminal elements, but also terrorist groups, Cayetano said.
Joining the DFA secretary in the bilateral meeting were Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, Ambassador Minda Cruz and other officials from the DFA, DTI and the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.
Source: Philippine News Agency