Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella (Photo: The Philippine Star)
   
 
Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines and Indonesia are stepping up cooperation to prevent the Islamic State (IS) terrorism from penetrating Southeast Asia.

Ernesto Abella, spokesperson of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, told the press on June 22 that President Duterte and his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo discussed in a phone call on June 21 potential threats posed by the alliance of local militants with the IS.

The two leaders reiterated the need to set up a bilateral cooperation mechanism to cope with threats from terrorism and extremism.

President Widodo reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitments to support the Philippines in the fight against terrorism, including restoring peace and stability in southern Philippines.

In response, President Duterte stressed Manila will closely coordinate with Jakarta to address the aforesaid matters.

The Philippines continues to battle terrorism and extremism in the southern region. The month-long fighting between government troops and militants that have expressed allegiance to the IS is still underway in Marawi city.

Since the fight started on May 23, at least 369 people have been killed, including 67 soldiers and policemen.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has recently warned that the IS sleeper cells have existed in almost all cities and provinces of its country, triggering concern that the terrorist organisation is attempting to establish its presence in Southeast Asia after its recent defeat in Iraq and Syria.-VNA