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ASEAN officials agree to combat extremism


By Jaimie Rose Aberia

Governors and mayors of capital cities in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to work together to combat the rise of radicalization and violent extremism following the bloody siege of Marawi City by ISIS-inspired militants.

During the Fifth Meeting of Governors/Mayors of ASEAN Capital Cities hosted by Manila, security was thoroughly discussed by the local chief executives from the 10 member-states, according to Universidad de Manila (UDM) President Ernest Maceda.

Representating Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in the one-day summit held at the historic Ayuntamiento De Manila in Intramuros, Maceda said the governors and mayors shared their knowledge and experiences in security and counter-terrorism campaign.

“We discussed best practices and there were suggestions on how we could integrate our security measures,” Maceda said.

The local executives, according to Maceda, raised the issue of the Marawi siege and suggested ways to strengthen the military and police, as well as empower the communities, in eliminating terror threats.

“Although it was a national problem on our part, they suggested we should strengthen police and military visibility, and tap the communities so that they will be empowered to prevent terrorist activities in their neighborhood,” he said.

In Singapore, Maceda said the city state has a program called “COP” or Citizens-On-Patrol where community residents are trained to be active in reporting activities they deem illegal or could result to crimes.

In Manila, the city government , in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has a similar initiative called Community Support Program (CSP) that seeks to empower barangays to deal with all kinds of security threats.

Formerly called the Peace and Development Outreach Program, CSP is a program that seeks to build conflict-resilient communities that will be able to independently address all kinds of threats, particularly terror threats and natural calamities and disasters.

Aside from security, tourism, liveable and sustainable communities, and governance and linkages were also discussed.

The gathering was attended by the chief executives of ASEAN capital cities and metropolises such as Mayor Low Yen Ling of South West District, Singapore, who is the current chair of the Mayors’ Committee; Ridzuan Bin Haji Ahmad, chairman of Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Board of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam; Mayor Myo Aung of  Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar; Deputy Governor of Bangkok Wanvilai Promlakano; Vientiane Vice Governor Keophilavanh Aphaylath; and Vice Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Doan Toan, among others.

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