Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines close to signing maritime cooperation

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are set to conduct a coordinated joint patrol to maintain security in border waters, which have been rife with piracy threatening trade lanes in the region, as the three countries enter the final stages of negotiations, an official said on Tuesday. (TheJakartaPost)

“The [standard operating] procedure has been agreed upon by all parties and is only waiting to be signed,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters on Tuesday. Arrmanatha said among those negotiated were a coordinated joint sea patrol and permission for the nearest corresponding foreign naval warship to enter neighboring waters to assist a ship in distress, including in cases of hijacking.

In case of a hijacking in Philippine waters, Arrmanatha cited as an example, an Indonesian warship detecting the threat could sail into the foreign waters to pursue the pirates. The Philippine Constitution stipulates that foreign troops are not allowed to operate in its territory. Foreign ministers and military commanders of the three countries met in Yogyakarta in May to discuss maritime security in the region. The meeting resulted in a joint declaration on maritime security to increase efforts to tackle threats in the regional waters. The move came as a response to the looming threat of militants and the rising occurrence of kidnappings, especially in the southern Philippines waters by the notorious Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Indonesia is facing its third hostage situation after seven of its citizens were abducted while sailing in Sulu waters in the Philippines. (ebf)