The agreement to conduct a joint military exercise made by the Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine defense ministers should be followed up by the military commanders of the three countries drafting standard operating procedures (SOP).
"We will work on it [the SOP] with Malaysia and the Philippines, together, and when it is agreed we will conduct [military exercises] in accordance with the rules," Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said on Thursday.
Gatot said the trilateral agreement, reached by the three defense ministers during a two-day meeting in Bali, should first be ratified by the legislatures of the three countries before the coordinated joint military exercise could be carried out in the Philippine's territory.
During the trilateral meeting, Indonesia had proposed coordinated land-based operations to pursue militants who took both Indonesian and Malaysian sailors’ hostage into Filipino land territory.
However, the trilateral agreement had yet to authorize the country's proposal due to a constitutional matter from the Filipino side, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said previously, following the two-day ministerial meeting in Bali.
The minister said the three countries had instead agreed during Tuesday’s meeting to conduct joint military exercises to prepare the defense forces for land operations should a deal be struck in the future.
The push to step 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 (bbn)