RP, Indonesia end joint patrol exercise

The exercise involved naval ships and military aircrafts from the two Southeast Asian countries which shared maritime borders over the Sulawesi and Celebes seas.

“The exercise is part of our efforts to secure the maritime border between Indonesia and the Philippines from illegal activities,” Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna said.

Luna is chair of the Philippine panel overseeing the border crossing agreement between the two countries.

He is also the commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We have been doing this annual exercise since 1975 and we hope to hold it on a quarterly basis in the future,” Luna said.

Authorities from both governments have stepped up monitoring of their respective territorial waters amid growing terrorist threats in the Southeast Asian region.

But Luna said they have not encountered terrorist activities in the borders shared by the Philippines and Indonesia.

North Sulawesi Governor S. M. Sarundayang echoed Luna’s assessment and said the area has been relatively free of terrorist activities over the last four years.

During the exercise, the Philippine government was also able to secure the release of Filipino fishermen who were arrested for fishing in Indonesian waters.

Ten Filipino fishermen detained in Indonesia were set to board the Philippine Navy ship that arrived in Tahuna City Wednesday morning.

The names of the Filipino fishermen were not immediately made available to the press.  Most of them are residents of Sarangani and General Santos City.

The Philippine naval contingent left Davao City Monday and was met by its Indonesian counterpart near Marure Island of Indonesia on its way to Tahuna where the exercise formally ended. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews Contributor)