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Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia launch joint maritime patrols

The trilateral maritime patrols were launched yesterday from Tarakan Island off the coast of North Kalimantan in Indonesia, according to a report by The Straits Times, with Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Malaysian Defense chief Hishammuddin Hussein in attendance. Hishammuddin Hussein's Communications Team/Released

MANILA, Philippines - As the Marawi City strife entered its fourth week yesterday, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have kicked off joint maritime patrols to combat terrorism and other transnational crimes.

The trilateral maritime patrols were launched yesterday from Tarakan Island off the coast of North Kalimantan in Indonesia, according to a report by The Straits Times, with Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Malaysian Defense chief Hishammuddin Hussein in attendance.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the joint patrols would be conducted in the three countries’ common borders, including Sabah.

“The end objective of the trilateral border agreement is to reinforce the security in this common area,” Padilla said in a chance interview yesterday at Malacañang.

“These abductions at sea are put to an end and the movement of potential armed elements, any jihadist organizations or any armed organizations, will not go through all these porous borders because of that heightened security,” he added.
Padilla said the joint patrols would also allow the three countries to capture fugitives seeking haven in their porous borders and those who are providing assistance to Islamic extremists.

He said the cooperation between the three Southeast Asian countries would also involve sharing of information, exchange of liaison officers, sharing of assets and forming of joint headquarters.

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“There is no need to intrude into other countries because we’re all sovereign nations. And in that manner, the best weapon we always rely on is these exchanges of information and information sharing about the movements of terrorists and what-have-you,” Padilla said, adding that Indonesian and Malaysian Navy personnel can enter Philippine territory if they are in hot pursuit or are chasing a terrorist or fugitive.

“We can also do that. We can go beyond international waters and enter their territory in pursuit of a threat.”

Earlier, President Duterte warned that extremist group Islamic State (IS) would target Southeast Asian countries after wreaking havoc in the Middle East.

The Philippines is now grappling with the threat posed by the Maute group, local terrorists believed to have links with the IS.– With Edith Regalado, Perseus Echeminada

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