Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines agree to boost marine security (Source: yahoo.com)

Hanoi (VNA) – Foreign ministers and military chiefs of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to conduct joint patrols to boost maritime security following the kidnappings of Indonesians by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.

In a joint statement issued after a meeting in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta on May 5, the officials agreed to render immediate assistance for the safety of people and ships in distress within the area and to intensify cooperation in sharing information and intelligence, as well as to establish a hotline of communication to improve cooperation during emergency and security threats. 

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed threats from robbery, kidnapping and other transnational crimes, if not addressed appropriately, can undermine the confidence in trade and commerce in the region.

She said the three sides’ officials will discuss a joint mechanism over the issue. Foreign ministers and military chiefs will instruct relevant bodies to hold regular meetings in order to implement agreed measures and procedures.

Over 55 million tons of goods and over 18 million people pass through the Celebes sea between the Sulu islands in southern Philippines and Indonesia’s Sulawesi island. The joint patrol initiative came one week after Abu Sayyaf insurgents beheaded a Canadian.

In March, Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped 10 Indonesian sailors and requested a ransom worth of one million USD, but the Indonesian government refused their request.

The Abu Sayyaf insurgents are based in and around Jolo and Basiland islands of the Philippines. They have claimed responsibility for several kidnappings and deadly bomb attacks.-VNA