Asean cities join war on terror

Governors and mayors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations capital cities have agreed to work together to combat the rise of radicalization and extremism in the region following the bloody siege of Marawi City staged by IS-inspired militants recently.

During the 5th Meeting of Governors/Mayors of Asean Capital Cities hosted by Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada”, security was thoroughly discussed by the local chief executives from the 10 member-states, according to Universidad de Manila president Ernest Maceda.

Acting as representative of Estrada in the one-day summit held at the historic Ayuntamiento De Manila in Intramuros last Friday, Maceda said the governors and mayors shared knowledge and experiences in security and counter-terrorism campaign.

“Security was the first thing in our agenda because as you all know, Mayor Estrada’s top priority is peace and order…so the mayors and governors discussed how we could improve it among the capital cities,” Maceda said in an interview.

“We discussed best practices and there were suggestions on how we could integrate our security measures,” Maceda added.

The capital cities executives, according to Maceda, raised the issue of the Marawi siege and suggested ways to strengthen the military and police, as well as empower the communities, in eliminating terror threats.

“Although it was a national problem on our part, they suggested we should strengthen police and military visibility, and tap the communities so that they will be empowered to prevent terrorist activities in their neighborhood,” he pointed out.

In Singapore, Maceda said the city state has a program called “COP” or Citizens-On-Patrol where community residents are trained to be active in reporting activities they deem illegal or could result to crimes.

In the City of Manila, the city government , in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has a similar initiative called Community Support Program that seeks to empower barangays to deal with all kinds of security threats.

Formerly called the Peace and Development Outreach Program, CSP is a program that seeks to build conflict-resilient communities that will be able to independently address all kinds of threats, particularly terror threats and natural calamities and disasters.

Overall, Maceda said the city’s hosting of the 5th Meeting of Governors /Mayors of Asean Capital Cities had contributed to a closer relationship between Asean capitals, especially in terms of sharing best practices in various areas.

Aside from security, also discussed were tourism, liveable and sustainable communities, and governance and linkages.

“There are areas of connectivity that national governments cannot reach, hence, the need for our local governments to come together,” Maceda said, quoting Indonesian President Joko Widodo who organized the first ever Meeting of Governors /Mayors of Asean Capital Cities when he was governor of Jakarta from 2012 to 2014.

The theme of this year’s 5th Meeting of Governors /Mayors of Asean Capital Cities is “Bridging Capital Cities for Stronger Asean.”

The gathering was attended by the chief executives of Asean capital cities and metropolises such as Mayor Low Yen Ling of South West District, Singapore, who is the current chair of the Mayors’ Committee; Ridzuan Bin Haji Ahmad, chairman of Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Board of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam; Mayor Myo Aung of Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar; Deputy Governor of Bangkok Wanvilai Promlakano; Vientiane Vice Governor Keophilavanh Aphaylath; and Vice Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Doan Toan, among others.