Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Eye Joint Maritime Patrols

Manila, Philippines, 15 Ramadan 1437/21 June 2016 (MINA) – The defense chiefs of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have reaffirmed their commitment to jointly address growing common security challenges confronting their countries.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Malaysian defense chief Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Indonesian minister of defense Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, in a joint statement following their meeting held at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday, said they are eyeing joint maritime and air patrols over areas of common concern in the South China Sea.

They also agreed in principle to have the armed forces of the three countries exercise greater coordination in conducting relevant security and maritime activities, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting Philstar.

The three defense chiefs also discussed the possible creation of a transit corridor within maritime areas of common concern as well as a mechanism for information and intelligence sharing, among others.

“The trilateral meeting among the defense ministers in Manila reaffirmed the commitments made on May 5, 2016 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by the foreign ministers and chiefs of defense forces of the three countries in addressing regional maritime and security challenges that affect the three countries,” their joint statement read.

Also raised in the meeting were recent incidents of kidnapping and armed robbery, dealing with which should be a collective responsibility of the countries concerned, the defense chiefs also said.

Several Indonesian and Malaysian sailors had been victims of kidnapping carried out by terror group Abu Sayyaf in the waters between Sabah and Tawi-Tawi.

Pirates and smugglers also operate almost unchallenged in the Sulu Sea.

“The ministers also agreed for the armed forces and relevant agencies of these three countries to expedite the crafting and finalization of relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” the Philippines’ defense department said. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)