FOLLOWING kidnappings of Indonesians at sea, Indonesia has come to an agreement with Malaysia and the Philippines to boost maritime security after a sit-down in Yogyakarta today.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Malaysia’s minister of foreign affairs, Anifah Aman, and Philippine secretary of the foreign affairs department, Jose Rene D. Almendras, to discuss the possibility of coordinating patrols around the Sulu Sea.
The three officials hashed out details of joint patrols, including issues on how the exchange of information would take place between the three countries.
According to Channel News Asia, Widodo also said he has already ordered his commanders to create a set of standard operating procedures to be finalized in the future.
Indonesia's Jokowi with foreign ministers, commanders as Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines agree on joint patrol pic.twitter.com/iESJeJZQaW
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Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry conveyed the country’s commitment to cracking down on the issue and pledged its full cooperation to the other two countries in a statement.
The statement also stressed the importance of addressing the “root causes” of the kidnappings, which has seen 14 Indonesians and four Malaysians captured in three incidents that took place in the last few weeks.
Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, who was also in attendance, said the threat from robbery, kidnapping and other transnational crimes, if not addressed appropriately, could undermine the confidence in trade and commerce in the region.
The agreement follows a recent spate of kidnappings in the waters between the three nations, which are attributed to suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.
On Sunday, the militants released 10 of the 14 Indonesian crewmen captured during their voyage in March.
The kidnapping was the first of three further attacks on tugboats that raised the alarm for regional maritime security.
Additional reporting by Associated Press