American Ambassador Sung Kim has warned that terrorism threats remain in the southern Philippines nearly a year after Islamic State-linked militants seized Marawi City.
Kim’s assessment echoes that of President Duterte, who has repeatedly warned of continuing threats by extremist groups in Mindanao and the need for vigilance, and continuing martial law, to prevent a repeat of the May 23 siege. The five-month conflict left more than 1,000 people dead.
“Both our experts including those in the military and their Filipino counterparts believe that it continues to exist and we must remain vigilant,” Kim told a news conference today (Thursday, May 3) when asked if he thought terrorism was a continuing threat in Mindanao.
Kim added that the US would continue to hold joint training exercises and provide equipment to help Philippine military combat the dangers.
“We intend to continue everything we are doing with the Philippine military as well as Philippine law enforcement to make sure to be prepared for events such as the Marawi siege,” the US envoy said.
US actions, he said, “would include the training and exercising together and it would include equipment grants and sales and continued sharing of intelligence and information”.
The ambassador also announced that the US government would provide an additional 182 million pesos — about $3.5 million — to help the almost 60,000 Marawi residents who continue to be internally displaced. The new funding brings the total assistance by Washington to help rehabilitate the war-torn Islamic city and its people to nearly 1.4 billion pesos, or $26.4 million.
“US assistance is directly used to support ongoing emergency relief operations as well as longer term stabilisation and rehabilitation for Marawi City and surrounding areas,” he said.
“This is a very important work and we hope to do more in the coming years.”