By Roy Mabasa
The United States and the Philippines are concerned about extremist activities in the country following the recent suicide bombing in Sulu where one of the suspects in the twin incident was found to be a Filipino.
“This is why counterterrorism cooperation has been a key element of our overall bilateral cooperation,” U.S. Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim told reporters at the conclusion of the 8th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue on Tuesday in Makati City.
Kim believed that cooperation between Manila and Washington will continue to look for ways to enhance joint counterterrorism measures “because we know the dangers exist in parts of the country.”
Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez, for his part, said there is continuing cooperation especially in the aspect of intelligence sharing.
The envoy said the bilateral dialogue was productive enough to discuss how the two sides can cooperate more following the recent suicide attacks in Sulu.
Last week, Philippine authorities said one of the two suicide bombers behind the June 28 twin blasts in Indanan, Sulu was a Filipino.
This was the first-ever confirmed case of a suicide bombing in the Philippines committed by a Filipino national.
Also during the strategic dialogue, senior officials from both sides led by US Assistant State Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo pledged to deepen their work to counter-terrorism and violent extremism.
This is through improved information sharing, and port and aviation security, in order to prevent terrorist attacks within the Philippines, and the transit of foreign terrorist fighters into and within the Philippines.