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PH, Indonesian, Malaysian Defense Ministers Meet Anew

Beyond addressing the security challenges to include armed robbery at sea, piracy and kidnapping in the areas of common concern for the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, trilateral cooperation among the three neighbors should redound to the benefit of the three countries' peoples. This was stressed by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana during his meeting with the defense ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Having the ministerial dialogue in Indonesia on August 2 in what is considered as Secretary Lorenzana's first trilateral meeting with his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts, the three ministers affirmed the Framework Agreement on Trilateral Cooperation signed last July 14 by representatives of their respective armed forces. The ministers instructed their defense forces to immediately operationalize the framework agreement's standard operating procedure (SOP) on trilateral maritime patrol, guidelines on intelligence and information sharing and communication plan which have been crafted as annexes of the agreement.

Building upon items which have been agreed upon to be explored when the defense ministers of the three countries met in Manila in June this year, with most of those items now included in the annexes of the Framework Agreement, the three ministers decided to move their cooperation forward by agreeing to explore other practical cooperative measures to include among others having laiason officers in their respective national military coordination centers to enhance coordination and maritime domain awareness, conduct of maritime security exercises and joint training activities, sharing of intelligence information from other relevant stakeholders which may be in a position to contribute to the peace and stability of the areas of common concern.

The three ministers agreed to further clarify the concept of hot pursuit with Secretary Lorenzana stressing that Indonesian and Malaysian armed forces would not be allowed to conduct ground operations in Philippine territory in accordance with the parameters and limitations set by the Philippine constitution.

The three countries' defense ministers first had their trilateral talks at the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Lao last May with the Philippines hosting the 2nd meeting in Manila last June.

At the end of the full day meeting, the three ministers signed a Joint Statement regarding trilateral cooperation, which not only details the matters they have discussed but provides the way ahead for  a deeper trilateral cooperation among their defense forces. They likewise agreed to continue their trilateral consultations at the sidelines of the ADMM and ADMM retreats.

Meanwhile, Secretary Lorenzana had separate working breakfast meetings with Malaysia's defense minister Hishammuddin on August and Indonesia's defense minister Ryacudu before returning to Manila on August 3.