Terrorism adds fuel to the pandemic

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    ‘These are nice-to-hear words coming from the President. If only this dream can be achieved in his lifetime…’

    IN the midst of the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, President Duterte had time to perorate to an international audience about a topic close to his heart: terrorism.

    Last week, Duterte issued a call to all nations to be more united and resolute in the battle against the twin menace of COVID-19 pandemic and lawless violence, the recent concomitant challenge that reared its head to prey on the people. Probably thinking of the recent twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu, the President pointed out that terror groups are taking advantage of the vulnerability of many countries, whether big or small, because of the health crisis.

    Duterte made the remarks during the two-hour 2020 Aqaba Process Virtual Meeting on COVID-19 Response hosted by His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan last week.

    At the virtual event, the Chief Executive called for “more openness, deeper solidarity, and stronger cooperation among nations” to facilitate economic recovery and effectively combat terrorism and violent extremism.

    The President shared how the Philippines conducted its official response to the pandemic, noting that “for the first time, all of humanity fear the exact same invisible menace.”

    Duterte need not mention it to world and business leaders in attendance, but he continued just the same: “Our urgent common response was to close down borders and impose limits to mobility and trade. The repercussions, as we are seeing now, are grim and far-reaching. We have economies in recession, institutions in crisis, and societies in state of uncertainty.”

    The President noted that as the nation imposes lockdowns, rolls out a social amelioration program, and tries hard to revive businesses, local terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines are exploiting the situation to reorganize, consolidate areas where they have considerable influence, and terrorize the people.

    We believe it is timely that Duterte affirmed the country’s thrust to intensify cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations, and other international partners, including Jordan. He thanked King Abdullah II for the timely convening of the meeting, as it gave Aqaba partners the opportunity to recommit to enhanced cooperation and shared objectives.

    The President noted that the key to prosperity is the free movement of goods, capital, and services, complemented with appropriate social safety nets, and ASEAN is “drawing up a comprehensive recovery plan anchored on strengthening economic cooperation and supply chain connectivity.”

    Duterte summed up his vision for the future thus: to “build a new order, one that is more secure, just, and humane – where there is no room for the barbarity of terrorists and extremist forces. And one that is fair, equal, and sustainable – where progress and prosperity are enjoyed by all.”

    These are nice-to-hear words coming from the President. If only this dream can be achieved in his lifetime…

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