Gazmin: Indonesian forces cannot just enter Philippines to rescue Abu Sayyaf captives

Civilians in Sulu have reported sightings of the seven Indonesian sailors believed abducted by the Abu Sayyaf, which could confirm the terror group's involvement in the kidnapping.

MANILA, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) — Outgoing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Indonesian military units cannot just enter Philippine territory in a bid to rescue seven of its sailors kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists in Sulu last week.

Since the incident took place in Philippine territory, he said it was the responsibility of Philippine security forces to rescue the victims.

"They (Indonesians) can only conduct operations to pursue within our area if the incident occurred within their waters, based on the principle of hot pursuit," Gazmin said.

This is consistent with the Philippine and Indonesia 1975 Border Crossing Agreement where Indonesian security forces are allowed to enter Philippine maritime zones under the concept of hot pursuit in the same way that Filipino forces are allowed to enter Indonesian maritime zones.

When pursuit operations reaches land, Indonesian forces are only allowed to conduct limited operations, such as sharing information with Philippine authorities, not operations using arms, he said.

Gazmin made this statement in response to reports that the Philippines has allowed Indonesian troops to conduct rescue operations within the country.

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He added the Indonesian and Philippines militaries are discussing a possible deployment of "sea marshals" that would escort citizens entering each other's countries.

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