Govt asks Philippines to guard Indonesian barges in regional waters
Marguerite Afra Sapiie
The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian government has asked Philippine authorities to help ensure the safety of Indonesian vessels in Philippine waters, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Friday.
"There should be security personnel for all Indonesian barges that cross our territory into the Philippines, including during unloading and on the journey back to our country," Luhut told journalists.
The request was made on the heels of a recent kidnapping of seven Indonesian sailors in the waters of Sulu, the southern Philippines, the third such incident this year by two different groups of pirates that the government has yet to identify.
Previously, following a spate of kidnappings of Indonesian sailors by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines, Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan asked the Philippine ambassador to ensure the security of Indonesian vessels in waters between the two countries, particularly for economic reasons, Luhut said.
As security remains uncertain, the government issued a moratorium on coal exports to the Philippines, which, Luhut said, would affect both countries' economic well-being, especially the Philippines as 96 percent of its coal needs were supplied by Indonesia.
Earlier this year, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia agreed to perform joint sea patrols to maintain security in waters bordering the three countries. The matter is still under deliberation, particularly by the countries' defense ministers, Luhut said.
"Joint patrols are yet to be performed as there are differences between the officials and their counterparts in the Philippines," Luhut said, adding that Indonesia hoped the Philippines would give a favorable response to the matter. (dmr)
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