"We face terrorists having different combat capabilities and diverse modes," Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu stated at a meeting with Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana and Malaysian Defense Minister Mohammad Bin Sabu at the Philippine Armed Forces Headquarters in Manila on Friday.
"Hence, we need to be more comprehensive in conducting operations to handle terrorists," he stressed, adding that a soft power approach is needed to overcome radicalism.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Defense Minister Mohammad Bin Sabu remarked that the eradication of terrorism could not solely rely on a militaristic approach.
According to Sabu, a militaristic approach is only suitable to eradicate terrorists and not terrorism. The eradication of terrorism requires awareness that can eliminate violent ideology.
"There is a misconception in understanding religious teachings. In Islam, there is jihad and martyrdom, which are considered to justify the violent acts of terrorists. This misunderstanding must be corrected. This is important," he noted.
Meanwhile, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana remarked that the joint exercise of the three countries needs to be adjusted to the operational patterns carried out by terrorists.
"This is important, so that the cooperation will be effective, as the terrorists` operational strategy also changes. What happened in Marawi could provide an insight into how terrorists commit their actions," Lorenzana noted.
To realize the joint ground exercise, the three countries have formed a working group that held its inaugural meeting in Manila on Thursday (Sept 13). The meeting will continue in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in October 2018.
Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia have participated in joint sea and air exercises to address terrorism in the three-state border areas within the TCA framework.
Reporting by Rini Utami
Editing by Libertina W Ambari