‘US a big help vs terror in RP’ — GMA

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday said the tieup between the Philippines and United States in the counterterrorism campaign has paid off in exterminating terrorists in Mindanao, particularly the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group.

“Our victories against the Abu Sayyaf highlight the success of our training and intelligence fusion programs with the United States, and these are reinforced by broader programs of peace and development, trade and investment that enlarge the space of Philippine security while constricting the space for terror and transnational crime,” the President said at the meeting of the National Security Council in Malacañang.

The President issued the statement in the wake of last week’s killing by the military of Jainal Antel Sali, alias Abu Sulaiman, the ASG’s tactician and master planner. This was followed by the official confirmation of the killing of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani during a gunbattle between Army soldiers and the extremists in Patikul, Sulu, last September.

“Our strategic relationship with the United States has always been a leading point for Philippine and regional security—and becomes even more important as we push for strong collective security arrangements in [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and in East Asia involving the US, China and Japan,” she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said the Philippines’ alliance with the US is enveloped in its alliance with all nations in the Asia-Pacific “for a more prosperous and safer world than can secure the movement of people, goods and technology across border while effectively checking terrorist persons, funds and material.”

She added that this is a high point for global security based on strong and committed alliances to a comprehensive strategy against terror.

The President commended the Armed Forces and the civilian communities involved for the capture and elimination of key figures of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Our military has hit them hard and with success. This is due in part to the fact that their lair is becoming smaller because our grasp on peace in Mindanao and Southern Philippines has become wider,” she said.

The natural outcome of peace is the defeat of extremism and violence perpetrated by those terrorist thugs, she added.