MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Friday said it is hoping that the country’s ranking in the Global Terrorism Index will improve in the future, as it compares its own data with that of the Institute for Economics and Peace.
“We’d like to see what those incidents are and compare it with the data that our law enforcement agencies have,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said. “But certainly, I think everyone is unified in the goal that we want to lessen these incidents.”
The Institute for Economics and Peace this week released its Global Terrorism Index, which ranked the Philippines as 9th out of 162 countries with terrorism activities.
It said that 292 deaths and 444 injuries recorded in the country were attributed to terrorism.
“We are trying to see what incidents have been counted because we see the difference from the incidents in 2011, 2012, 2013 and the most recent year,” Valte said.
The undersecretary also assured the public that the government is doing everything to keep global terrorism groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) away from the country.
“We have been coordinating and cooperating with our neighbors just to make sure that the Philippines will remain free from any ISIS recruitment and we’ve said this in the past couple of days,” she said.
On Thursday, Malacañang echoed the statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that there are no confirmed reports of ISIS recruitment in the country despite an ISIS video allegedly showing a Filipino participating in the execution of the group’s prisoners.
“The military is endeavoring to check the veracity of that particular video. But, so far, we still do not have any confirmation of the nationality of that person,” Valte added.
In the meantime, she said the government continues to pursue its peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“You have seen the administration’s resolve in trying to reach a just and lasting peace for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao. And perhaps to us, we will remain undeterred in our efforts to continue to push for that,” she said.
In addition to the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf, the MILF was also mentioned in the Global Terrorism Index as among those carrying out terrorist attacks.
Valte told media that there are continued efforts to bring the National Democratic Front (NDF), the
political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and other parties “back to the (negotiating) table.”
Asked if Aquino was satisfied with the performance of law enforcement agencies, Valte said, “I am quite certain that the President has seen some of the results of the work but, because he is the President, will continue to demand more from our law enforcement agencies when it comes to counter-terrorism.”
Valte added that the visit of Pope Francis and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit next year further requires the government to be extra cautious.
“We have made significant security preparations for the coming year…We are taking the necessary security precautions,” she said.
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