Indonesia, Philippines agree on armed escorts for coal barges

It appears there is finally some progress, and efforts are being made to solve the piracy problem in the southern Philippines, with Indonesia saying it will finalize this week the concrete form of a joint security cooperation effort to ensure the safety of Indonesian export barges crossing regional waters with the Philippines, local reports said.

Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said Manila had given approval to Indonesian Military (TNI) vessels guarding Indonesian barges until they reached Philippine waters, from where a Philippines Armed Forces vessel would escort them to their destination and back into Indonesian waters.

“There is no problem with the Philippines; we can enter its territory after reporting how many vessels and the number of personnel guarding them,” Ryamizard was quoted as saying.

Once in the Philippine’s territory, the Philippine armed forces would become the head of the operation, and Indonesia would follow their commands, Ryamizard said, making assurances that the two parties had reached full understanding and there would not be any problems.

The minister is scheduled to meet his Philippine counterpart Delfin Lorenzana to further discuss the mechanism of the security operation ahead of its implementation on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, where Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammudin Hussein will join them for a trilateral meeting aimed at stepping up security in the regional waters.

Ryamizard asserted that during the meeting, the three countries would finalize the mechanism of the joint Navy exercises that will precede the implementation of the joint sea patrols, as a follow-up of the trilateral maritime security agreement signed in May.

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