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PH, Indonesia and Malaysia Meet at the Sidelines of ADMM 2016

Meeting at the sidelines of the ADMM in Vientiane, Laos on May 26, 2016, Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin and Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s ministers of defense Hashimudin and Ryacudu, agreed to further enhance cooperation to curb rising criminality, piracy, kidnapping and smuggling in the Sulu sea area, the border area common to the three countries.

They agreed to ensure timely sharing of relevant information and to this end direct their respective intelligence units to be more open in sharing databases of criminals. Indonesia proposed to have joint posts of coordination within our countries' respective borders. They also agreed to use existing platforms in undertaking joint patrols. The Philippines regularly conducts coordinated patrols with Indonesia while the Philippines has anti-smuggling agreement with Malaysia. The idea of coordinated patrol is in accordance with the Joint Declaration on Immediate Measures in the Maritime Areas of Common Concern which was signed by the three countries' foreign ministers and chiefs of defense forces last May 5. A framework and subsequently a standard operating procedure are currently being crafted among our respective technical level officers. 

The ministers also agreed to pursue joint training, with Indonesia proposing to have joint exercises at least twice a year although Secretary Gazmin reminded the two other ministers that since the PH does not have a status of visiting forces agreement (SOVFA) with either Indonesia and Malaysia, Manila could only conduct exercises with them in the high seas and not within PH territorial waters.

To sustain high level ministerial dialogue regarding this matter, the three ministers agreed to once more have a trilateral meeting in June 2016, with Secretary Gazmin slated to host the said meeting in the Philippines.