In wake of repeat kidnappings, Indonesia, Philippines boost defense cooperation
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and the Philippines have agreed to boost defense cooperation in the wake of another hostage-taking incident, with seven Indonesian crewmen abducted by armed militants in the waters off the southern Philippines.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu had met with his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin, on Sunday to intensify defense cooperation for the safety of Indonesian and Philippine vessels sailing through Sulu waters.
"Two points of cooperation that have been agreed to be enhanced are cooperation for the release of hostages and a partnership to prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future," Retno told journalists on Tuesday.
The minister said the two governments had intensified communication and coordination in their efforts to ensure the safe release of the seven hostages. The Foreign Ministry has deployed diplomats to Davao to speak first hand with people on the location and gather information from the field, she went on.
Retno assured reporters that the inauguration of the new Philippine administration under President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday would not hamper release efforts, adding that she would meet with her new counterpart as soon as possible after the inauguration.
Separately, Ryamizard said that following a trilateral meeting between Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia on the strengthening of maritime security in regional waters in May, there had been continuous discussion as to whether Indonesian warships would be allowed to enter Philippine waters if another hostage-taking incident occurred in the future.
The Philippine constitution dictates that foreign troops are not allowed to operate in the country’s territory. (ebf)
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