Indonesia halts coal shipment to Philippines over abduction of seafarers

In light of the latest kidnapping of seven crewmembers in the southern Philippines, Indonesia said that the stoppage of coal shipments to the Philippines will remain in place until the country can guarantee for security.

The kidnapping of the seafarers from an Indonesian tugboat, which was underway towing a coal barge on June 20, pushed the number of kidnapped people to over twenty.

The crew was reportedly taken from a tugboat, which was carrying 13 people at the time of the incident, by two separate Filipino pirate groups, believed to be linked to Islamist extremists, the Abu Sayyaf. The remaining six seafarers were released along with their vessels and were on their way to Indonesia.

Indonesia started restricting coal shipments to the Philippines in April as a result of a rise in hijackings of its ships in the area.

The country’s ports of Banjarmasin and Tarakan in Indonesia’s Kalimantan stopped issuing shipping permits to vessels taking coal to the Philippines.

Indonesia supplies 70 percent of the Philippines’ coal import needs, which amounted to about 15 million tonnes, worth around USD800million, last year.

The announcement follows a recent agreement between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia which aims to decrease security risks in the Southeast Asian waters amid a surge in kidnappings and pirate attacks in the area.

The parties agreed to designate a transit corridor for commercial vessels, as well we step up air and sea patrols and escorts for commercial ships to prevent potential attacks.

The countries’ representatives did not sign a definitive agreement on the plans, but the boarder security agreement could be formalized within a year.


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