PH to boost defense, security cooperation with Malaysia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte seeks to bolster the country's defense and security after meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, the Malacañang said.

In a statement, the Palace said Duterte and Mahathir "renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia."

"President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level," it added.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go said the bilateral meeting lasted an hour, which happened a day after Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao captured the World Boxing Association welterweight belt from Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse in a match held at Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

The Palace said Duterte discussed the need to address terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational crime such as piracy, armed robbery at sea, and the illegal drug trade in the region.

"President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia's sustained support for the quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao," it said.

The Philippines and Malaysia have Memoranda of Understanding on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, and on Defense Cooperation, signed on 1993 and 1994, respectively.

In June 2017, foreign affairs and security officials from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia conducted a trilateral meeting to discuss how to address extremism, aiming to establish mechanisms to boost intelligence and information sharing. In a statement, three countries said they were also exploring socio-economic programs to address the roots of terrorissm.

It happened during the course of the five-month long Marawi crisis, where the ISIS-linked Maute group were believed to be working with foreign terrorists including Indonesians and Malaysians.