Indonesia proposes coordinating security operations on land with Malaysia and Philippines

Bali is hosting the Third Trilateral Defence Ministerial Meeting between Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines from Aug 1 to 2, with discussions pertaining to security measures in the maritime region of the Sulu Sea on the agenda.
Bali is hosting the Third Trilateral Defence Ministerial Meeting between Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines from Aug 1 to 2, with discussions pertaining to security measures in the maritime region of the Sulu Sea on the agenda. PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia has proposed coordinated security operations with Malaysia and the Philippines to pursue militants who have taken Indonesian and Malaysian sailors hostage.

The operations would stretch into Philippine land territory, a senior minister has said.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said joint land operations would complement the implementation of the joint sea patrols that the three countries have agreed to in their effort to tackle piracy and to prevent other hostage-taking incidents from occurring in the future.

"(The militants) launched their attacks at sea before they brought their hostages to land. What will happen if we don't have cooperation on the ground?" Wiranto said on Tuesday (Aug 2).

He admitted it would not be easy to carry out joint security operations on land as it would collide with the Philippines' jurisdiction. Therefore, he said a comprehensive agreement on the plan should be first concluded to ensure the harmonious and well-coordinated implementation of operations among related countries.

Wiranto said he had conveyed the idea to Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who later delivered it to his Malaysian and Philippine counterparts during the two-day trilateral defense minister's meeting on maritime security in Bali, which ended on Tuesday.

During the meeting, the defense ministers of the three countries signed a document on standard operating procedures for trilateral maritime cooperation, marking the official start of coordinated joint sea patrols between the three countries to secure regional waters.

The push for stepping up security cooperation has come on the heels of the abduction of three Indonesian sailors in Malaysia's Sabah waters in early July, less than a month after the kidnapping of seven Indonesian crew members by Abu Sayyaf militants in the waters off the southern Philippines. The July incident marked the fourth abduction of its kind this year.