Canada assured its support to the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the fight against violent terrorism.
Canada made the move as the military in the Philippines continues to do battle against Islamic State or IS forces in Marawi City in the southern region of Mindanao.
“I would like to express my condolences to the Philippines for those killed in Marawi by Daesh-inspired terrorists,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Chyristia Freeland.
“This is a horror that we are not immune to and we stand in solidarity in fighting these forces,” Freeland said.
Speaking at the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting held in Manila, Freeland said Canada remains a staunch partner of the 10-member bloc in the fight against terrorism.
“We have been working with you to address regional security issues, preventing violent extremism. We are a founding member of the global terrorism task force. We are in a strong position to help ASEAN in the shared fight to prevent terrorism,” she added.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop noted that extremist threats present an opportunity to deepen ties between Australia and the ASEAN.
“Terrorism and violent extremism transcends national boundaries and directly threaten regional security as we’re seeing in Marawi,” Bishop said during the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting.
She also expressed alarm at North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles, which “is in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions” and “a direct threat to us all.”
She also warned against the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, which is destabilizing the situation by increasing tension between nations.
Australia will provide $20 million over four years to support recovery and long-term peace and stability in the southern Philippines.
Bishop announced the extra funding, which comes on top of a $1 million package announced in June, after meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.
The terrorist conflict in Marawi has forced about 360,000 people to flee their homes.
Fighting in Marawi City broke out after government forces tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and IS “emir” in Southeast Asia on May 23.
A large area of Marawi has been devastated by almost daily artillery shelling and aerial bombings to try to dislodge militants holed up in the commercial center who are believed to be holding as many as 100 hostages.
More than 600 rebels and soldiers have been killed in the unrest.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency said the nation’s young radicals are continuing to be drawn to the southern Philippines, where the fighting in the city of Marawi is now in its third month.
It is believed that about 20 Indonesians are currently fighting in the southern Philippines
In a media interview, a senior official from the counter-terrorism body known as the BNPT said some Indonesians had been arrested trying to make it to Marawi, while some had returned home and others had been killed.
The continuing battle to take back the city is focusing the political minds of the region, with Indonesia warning the IS group could pose a threat elsewhere, like Myanmar.