United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim urged public officials to stay vigilant against terrorists who may exploit the coronavirus pandemic to execute attacks.
“No country can fight the battle against terrorism alone because terrorists recognize no borders, and they honor no laws,” Kim said in his opening remarks during a virtual workshop on counterterrorism on Monday, May 11.
He added, “Terrorists view a global crisis as an opportunity. So public officials must be vigilant against this threat, even in the midst of a public health crisis.”
The workshop focused on collaboration and coordination on terrorist investigations and prosecutions, proper handling of explosives and other battlefield evidence, training police and military on chain of custody issues, and the use of digital evidence. It was hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training in the Philippines.
Sixty-five participants reportedly attended the virtual workshop, including officials from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, Department of Justice in the Philippines, as well as a Philippine judge.
“We are thrilled to be able to build on our strong counterterrorism cooperation,” Kim said, adding “I am confident that the initiatives like this workshop will continue to strengthen our shared fight against terrorism.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division explained how critical the use of battlefield evidence in criminal prosecutions and cooperation among governments is.
“Police and prosecutors need to work collectively around the world. This is a worldwide partnership to identify terrorists that threaten citizens of all nations. I look forward to the work we continue to do together in fighting terrorism,” he said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento pointed out that terrorist activities continued despite the pandemic.
“Clearly, COVID or no COVID, terrorists have no agenda for peace. Their aim is (the) destruction of lives and properties,” he said.
“It is but fitting that we face these enemies with the full force of our laws. It is imperative for us to collaborate with our citizens, law enforcement agencies, and other important partners in combating these terrorist groups and their activities,” Malcontento added.