By Melo M. Acuña

US Ambassador Sung Kim (right) expresses concern over the activities of violent extremists in the country. Also in the photo is Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez. (Melo M. Acuna)

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Tuesday expressed concern over violent extremists’ activities in the Philippines and the region.

Speaking at a press conference after the 8th Bilateral Strategic Review between the Philippines and US at Makati Diamond Residences, Kim said both countries “would continue to look for ways to enhance the cooperation.”

This was Kim’s reaction to reports that a Filipino, identified as 23-year-old Norman Lasuca, a Jolo, Sulu resident, was one of two suicide bombers who killed six people and wounded 22 others in Indanan town on June 28. 

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said there would be continuing cooperation through intelligence-sharing, which he said had yielded very productive results.

“We discussed how we can cooperate with what happened in southern Philippines,” he said.  

Both sides declined to comment on whether the number of military camps, where American soldiers are allowed to stay under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), would be expanded to cover wider areas.

To date, five military camps have hosted American troops: Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan; Basa Air Base in Pampanga and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, both Central Luzon; Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu.

American soldiers stationed in the camps are involved in community-based programs and disaster relief projects.  

EDCA, a supplement agreement to the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement governing US troops in the Philippines, was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in 2014, a few hours before US President Barack Obama arrived for an official visit.

On July 26,2016, the Philippine Supreme Court declared EDCA in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.