Combat, cooperation and interfaith dialogue

(Philippine statement delivered by Ambassador Teddy Locsin Jr. on June 26, 2018 at the United Nations General Assembly Plenary Debate on Agenda Item 118 — The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters, New York)

“Mr. President,

“The Philippines welcomes the adoption, by consensus, of this 6th iteration of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We extend our appreciation to the Permanent Representatives of Finland and Jordan and their teams for their tireless efforts in facilitating this resolution. And we thank the Secretary-General for his report and recommendations.

“The Philippines values the Strategy as it advocates the necessity of developing a broad UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as shown by its focus on:

“First. Broadening counter-terrorism by highlighting the growing nexus between transnational crime organizations, especially the drug trade, and terrorist groups, as well as increasing inter-faith dialogue.

“Second. Engaging more actors—not just states, international and regional organizations, but also private stakeholders, non-partisan NGOs, peaceful religious bodies, and the youth who are the most susceptible to terrorist recruitment—in preventing: radicalization, interdicting terrorist financing especially through the drug trade, the enlistment of foreign terrorist fighters, and strengthening legal and financial institutions.

“Third. Emphasizing the “weaponization” of the Internet in terrorist recruitment and as integral to the communication of their message of violence and the crowdsourcing of funds.

“Fourth. Affirming the importance of human rights and international humanitarian law so that fighting terrorists is done, effectively always by returning fire, but also without the careless disregard of human rights which recruits their replacements.

“These issues resonate in my country because of Marawi, a Muslim-majority city in central Mindanao attacked in May 2017 by hundreds of men belonging to a Daesh-inspired terrorist organization called the “Maute Group.” The attack is arguably the most destructive act of terrorism in my country’s history.  It caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with around 200,000 persons displaced by the fighting but fortunately mostly absorbed by the Philippine culture of hospitality.

“Peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims is what it has been for centuries; Catholicism’s holiest sites are adjacent to Islam’s in the capital of Manila and elsewhere; a man’s religion is no one’s concern but her own. Marawi in particular stood out in that mutually tolerant and harmonious regard which is why the terrorists chose Marawi to stake out their first presence in my country.  If they succeeded there, they would have better chances elsewhere. They failed. In a textbook perfect military victory, over a thousand of them were killed to 165 of our brave soldiers.

“Marawi illustrates the intimate and symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the illegal drug trade. The poor are not terrorists but their victims. With drug money, the terrorists were able to gather a motley assortment of extremists, criminals, mercenaries, and foreign fighters to take control of Marawi and reestablish in our part of the world their shattered caliphate in the Middle East.

“The Philippines condemns terrorism anywhere in the world, however inspired – by religious madness or individual perversity. We abhor it in all its manifestations, wherever, by whomever, and against whomsoever committed and whatever the excuse. We do not accept poverty as an excuse.

“The Philippines addresses violent extremism through a “whole of nation” approach.  We engage women, the youth, Muslim and Christian leaders and teachers, non-partisan NGOs, the academe, and the private sector, as partners in counter-radicalization, and as a collective force for moderation, peace, democracy, and development.

“We raise the security awareness of local communities, and implement community awareness; we target radical programs within the framework of the rule of law and human rights as the fundamental complement of combat in counter-terrorism.

“We continue to train law enforcement and security experts to increase their capacity, in partnership with grassroots connections, to detect and stop threats from homegrown extremists.

“Mr. President, terrorism is an evil so pure, it must be countered with means that are sure – a global effort against terror on every front by every society worthy to be called one and not a gang.  Terrorism is a global problem no country can tackle alone.  President Rodrigo Duterte understands this.  Counterterrorism is a cornerstone of his national agenda, and this includes strengthening cooperation with our regional partners especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and with Australia and the United States, so that the Philippines can have a more effective defense system to crush terrorism when it will not be deterred.

“The fight against terrorism should unite us all.  Foreign terrorist operations do not recognize borders, and the complexity and reach of the threat they pose have expanded. Every civilized society they destroy is a platform for the destruction of another. To put a stop to them, Member States must work together.  International cooperation must cover the whole range of the counter-terrorism spectrum: from border control to countering the narratives of violent extremism—and always and ever to flat-out fighting it.

“This is what the Strategy provides. For the Strategy to be effective, the United Nations and its institutional architecture must be not just comprehensive but coherent, coordinated, and not waste its time talking. The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) must work closely with the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and with the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, ensuring always respect for national ownership and national priorities. No one can know better than a country how its particular terrorist threat must be addressed. This is one area where there are no experts outside those who are fighting it in-country. Thank you.”


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