PH, Indonesia to hold joint maritime patrol July 4 to 12

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 July) – Combined Philippine and Indonesian forces will conduct an eight-day coordinated patrol in the common boundary of Davao Gulf and the common boundary of the two countries along the Celebes Sea from July 4 to 12.

In a press release Sunday, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) announced the Indonesian delegates, who will arrive early Monday at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City, will be accorded with an arrival ceremony by members of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao.

It added they aim to enhance the“inter-operability of the two countries in maritime patrol.”

In a text message, Eastmincom spokesperson Major Ezra L. Balagtey said Philippine and Indonesian troops will start the planning for coordinated maritime patrol on July 4, and hold a sendoff ceremony on July 6 before leaving for Davao Gulf and the Celebes Sea.

On July 7, military personnel will hold a medical mission aboard the patrol vessels in a stopover at Balut Island, Sarangani, Davao Occidental in coordination with the municipal government.

The coordinated patrol culminates in Manado, Indonesia.

Officials envision trilateral relations between Philippines and its two neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, to enhance security patrol in the porous “southern backdoor” of this country that has remained vulnerable to international terrorists entering Mindanao.

During the Mindanao Hour on Friday at the Lispher Inn, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the three countries, all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, are “making a collective effort” against terrorism and extremism, as they convened in Manila on Thursday to discuss enhancing cooperation to address the common threats of terrorism and violent extremism confronting the region.

He said such relations will boost efforts in thwarting any attempts at establishing terrorist’s bases in Southeast Asia.

“Yesterday, the foreign military intelligence officials from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, had a fruitful and productive discussion on the trilateral cooperation aimed at preventing extremists and terrorists from establishing operational bases in Southeast Asia,” he said.

He said the three countries have agreed to work together to jointly develop and implement counter-terrorism measures and strategies in the region.

“Let us underline that their joint aim, the end game is to prevent the establishment of operational bases in South East Asia,” he said.

On June 22, top foreign and security officials of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia came out with a joint statement on security, reaffirming their “commitment to effectively address existing as well as emerging transnational challenges and threats that have potential to undermine the stability and well-being of countries in the region.”

It said the ministers raised concern over recent incidents of terrorism and violent extremism in their countries and reaffirmed their desire to work together to jointly develop and implement counter-terrorism measures and strategies.

The ministers acknowledged that “proper development of strategies and cooperation in security and intelligence on a regional scale” are necessary in addressing transnational threats.

They agreed to task their senior officials and to consider the proposed plan of action, in the context of the following measures:

a.) Enhance effort and cooperation in addressing the root causes and underlying conditions of extremism including but not limited to poverty, narcotics or illegal drugs, crime and social justice.

b.) Promote social and economic development particularly in adjoining areas of the three countries.

c.) Enhance the intelligence and information sharing amongst all security and intelligence agencies on potential, imminent and real threats.

d.) Stop the flow of terrorist financing.

e.) Contain the spread of terrorism and terrorism-related content in the cyberspace, particularly in social media.

f.) Prevent and suppress the terrorist exploitation of information and communication technology and the dissemination of terrorist messages.

g.) Prevent and stop the flow of illicit arms and arms smuggling as we ass the movement of all terrorists.

h.) Consider the provision of specialized military and law enforcement training.

i.) Support the trilateral cooperative arrangement and other sub-regional efforts to combat transnational crime.

j.) Review and implement all of our existing agreements on terrorism and violent extremism.

k.) Make a cross-analysis comparison of each other’s laws on terrorism with a view to enhancing legislation.

l.) Counter the extremist narrative through education, community engagement including the involvement of religious leaders and the promotion of tolerance, moderation and unity in diversity.

m.) Explore initiatives to provide support for victims of terrorism.

n.) Promote radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programs as part of comprehensive measures in countering terrorism.

o.) Protect and safeguard vulnerable groups, particularly women, children and the youth, from the influence of terrorism. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)