MANILA — Defense leaders of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have reiterated their commitment to encourage the “operationalization” of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) needed for meeting current security concerns in their common waters.
This was stressed during the Tuesday meeting of Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Indonesian Defense Minister General (R) Ryamizard Ryacudu and Malaysian Defense Minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein in Bali.
In the same meeting, the three reiterated their commitment to the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement signed in Jakarta last July 14.
They also “agreed to encourage the operationalization of the SOP for Maritime Patrol and Rendering Immediate Assistance; Operating Guidelines on Information and Intelligence Sharing; and Combined Communication Plan.”
“Recognizing the mutual trust and high responsibility from all parties, the defense chiefs agreed to further explore coordinated activities among the Armed Forces of the three countries, a trilateral database sharing mechanism, and the concept of the Malacca Strait Patrol to address maritime security concerns, among others,” said Defense public affairs service chief Dr. Peter Paul Galvez.
During the meeting, the leaders also reiterated their stand against violent extremism and terrorism, and concern over the repeated incidents of armed robbery and kidnapping at sea in the maritime areas of common concern to the three countries.
This is an obvious reference to the Sulu Sea, the maritime area bordering the three nations where Abu Sayyaf Group bandits have infiltrated and launched several kidnapping attacks against Malaysian and Indonesian seafarers.
The defense ministers reaffirmed their commitment to address such threats.
The Trilateral Meeting was conducted in accordance with the ASEAN’s principles of equality, mutual trust and respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, and good neighborliness.
The August meeting follows the first meeting held in Manila last June 20 where the three defense chiefs discussed the possibility of conducting trilateral air and maritime patrols in common areas of concerns by the three nations. PRIAM NEPOMUCENO/PNA/northboundasia.com