EVER since the Bali bombing in
2002 which killed 190 people, 90 of them Australians, Australias Prime Minister John Howard has taken regional terrorism very seriously indeed. In her national day remarks last January 26th, Australias Ambassador to the Philippines Ruth Pearce referred to President Arroyos description of Australia and the Philippines as strategic partners for peace, security, and development in the Asia Pacific Region and reminded her guests that during his official visit in July, 2003, the Prime Minister had announced a counter terrorism assistance package for the Philippines designed to strengthen existing port and border security and enhance law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.
On April 20th, the Philippines and Australia signed the anti-terror pact which initially provides the Philippines with $3.65 million to improve intelligence-gathering capacity and forensic capabilities of local law enforcement officials, part of an overall 3-year $5-million package. Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy Director Reynaldo Velasco on behalf of the Philippines and Australian Federal Agent Frank Prendergast signed for the Australian Federal Police.
Australia, which has maintained a police liaison office in Manila since 1985, and assisted on local investigations of terrorist activities, hopes eventually to form an Asia-Pacific regional intelligence exchange program to cooperate on terrorist activities. …