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PH, Indonesia to renew commitment in watching over Sulu-Celebes Sea

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By Betheena Kae Unite 

Maritime security concerns in the Sulu-Celebes Sea, like kidnap for ransom and terrorism, are expected to be addressed as the Philippines and Indonesia renew their commitment to enforce security in the said sea.

PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Joel Garcia (DOTr / MANILA BULLETIN)

PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Joel Garcia
(DOTr / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Philippines, through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Indonesia, through the Indonesian Maritime Security Force also known as Humas Bakamla RI (BAKAMLA), aim to intensify maritime security cooperation through the re-signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with implementing arrangement (IA) that will be held in Bali, Indonesia next year.

“We want to establish a model on maritime security to address pressing challenges in the Sulu-Celebes Sea, particularly kidnap for ransom and other maritime terrorism activities. This is a political and economic statement to the world that Sulu-Celebes Sea is open, free, safe, and secure for navigations,” Admiral Joel Garcia, PCG commandant, said.

Garcia believes that the IA of the MOU will further strengthen the mutual interests of Philippines and Indonesia in enforcing maritime laws towards safe, secure, and clean marine environment.

Under the IA, the Philippines and Indonesia will conduct regular exchange of information through availability of multi-level hotlines of communication; implementation of communication protocol between patrol units; implementation of a common identification system to monitor the movement of vessels along Philippine and Indonesian waters; implementation of the Security, Safety and Environmental Numbering (SSEN) System designated to Philippine vessels and water crafts that not covered with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbering system; and the utilization of maritime information report as the standard reporting format to transmit information on maritime incidents.

The two Asian countries also committed to conduct regular coordinated patrols, port visits, joint maritime exercises, training activities, capacity building efforts, sharing of best practices, regular consultations, and the conduct of annual joint working group on maritime security.

Commodore Samuel Kowaas of BAKAMLA said that the strong relations of the Philippines and Indonesia was further developed when the Border Crossing Agreement on maritime security was signed in 1975.

According to Coast Guard, the MOU on maritime security cooperation between the Philippines and Indonesia was initially signed in June 2019 in Manila.

However, the IA was finally developed on December 3 and 4 with the help of the National Coast Watch Center, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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