By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippine government has welcomed Japan’s offer to help the country fight terrorism following the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu last month.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo recognized that the world’s nations must work together to crush the threat of terrorism which he claimed knows no border or religion.
“We welcome all kinds of help. As I said, all nations of the world must unite to combat terrorism,” he said during a Palace press briefing.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono had extended Japan’s commitment “to assist the Philippines in combating the scourge of terrorism” during a meeting with President Duterte in Davao City last Saturday, according to Panelo.
Kono also informed Duterte about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grave concern over the church blasts in Jolo that claimed the lives of several people and injured dozens others. Abe has also condemned terrorism and violent extremism, he added.
Asked if Japan’s assistance includes acquiring new military equipment and launching joint defense exercises, Panelo said: “Maybe both. They have not particularized in detail exactly how they will help us.”
The President, meantime, will wait for Abe’s response on his proposal to hold talks on further enhancing the country’s bilateral relations with Japan.
Panelo made the remark when asked if the President was planning another visit to Japan soon.
“He just expressed his willingness to meet with the Prime Minister. We will be awaiting of course for the response of the Prime Minister,” he said.
The last time Duterte and Abe met was during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea last November. They also held bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore earlier that month.
Duterte visited Japan in October 2017 and October 2016, while Abe visited the Philippines in January 2017.