Philippines, Indonesia agree to strengthen maritime patrols along porous borders

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal and Rear Admiral Didik Setiyono during the signing of the agreement on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy: AFP Eastmincom)
Updated 09 January 2018
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Philippines, Indonesia agree to strengthen maritime patrols along porous borders

MANILA: The Philippines and Indonesia have agreed to intensify patrol operations amid the threat of terrorism in the region.
This was the consensus reached during the 36th Republic of the Philippines–Republic of Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s Conference held in Davao City Jan. 8-9.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, chief, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), led the Philippine delegation, while Rear Admiral Didik Setiyono, commander of the Eastern Fleet Command, headed the Indonesian one. The Committees deliberated on matters of common concern to both countries.
The conference was held days after President Rodrigo Duterte met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Davao City. During their meeting, the Philippine leader said he wants to intensify maritime security cooperation with Indonesia as terrorists continue to enter and exit the country through its southern waters.
A joint statement by the two countries’ border committee chairmen said that in support of the Philippine leader, they have agreed to strengthen coordinated patrols to ensure security and maritime control in their common borders.
“It also aims to prevent the utilization of our respective territorial waters as an avenue for the proliferation of terrorism and other transnational crimes,” the statement read.
“Similarly, the committees agreed to look into measures to ensure the safe passage of our respective nationals, to include fisher folks, in the border areas. This effort will contribute to uplifting the economic wellbeing of our respective countrymen while assuring their protection en route to the fishing grounds at high seas,” it added.
Considering the porous shorelines of the two countries’ archipelagic domains, both committees also looked into increasing the number of Border Crossing Stations (BCS) at common border areas and, to further strengthen the operational functions of the existing BCSs.
This effort will provide a systematic scheme in closely monitoring the entry and exit of the nationals of both countries with the hands-on involvement of each country’s immigration, quarantine and customs bureaus.
Further, the committees decided to include other concerned military units and government agencies in the border committees, and to establish a definitive hotline between their naval commanders to immediately address developing situations and other challenges.
Both committees also intend to jumpstart the review of the 1975 Border Patrol and Border Crossing Agreements that will seek to recommend amendments of its provisions to improve maritime security cooperation between the two countries.
Last week, Marsudi paid a courtesy call on Duterte at the presidential guest house in Davao City. Duterte and the Indonesian Foreign Minister agreed to elevate cooperation on trade, maritime security, education, and in eradicating terrorism.
Duterte also expressed interest in the resumption of the Philippines-Indonesia routes to further strengthen trade between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated on Tuesday that the military continues to verify reports that more foreign terrorists have entered Mindanao.
“We are trying to confirm reports that there are foreign terrorists inside the country, especially in Mindanao,” Lorenzana told reporters, adding there are reports from other countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia indicating an increase of foreign terrorists coming into the country through the southern backdoor.
“We haven’t confirmed anything, though,” said the defense chief.


Protesters urge ASEAN leaders to ban trash imports

Updated 36 min 24 sec ago
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Protesters urge ASEAN leaders to ban trash imports

  • Countries in ASEAN now receive more than a quarter of global plastic waste
  • Waste comes from developed economies like Canada, the US, Australia and Japan

BANGKOK: Protesters in Bangkok on Thursday dumped plastic waste in front of a government building and called on Southeast Asian leaders to ban imports of trash from developed countries.
The protest comes ahead of a weekend meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with many countries struggling to deal with the flood of plastic waste unleashed by China’s decision last year to stop importing recyclables from abroad.
Countries in ASEAN now receive more than a quarter of global plastic waste, most of which comes from developed economies like Canada, the US, Australia, and Japan.
A group of about 50 Thai activists, some holding placards reading “No Space for Waste,” joined Greenpeace campaigners to call for an end to all trash imports to Southeast Asia.
“The communities are here today to reclaim ... the right to live in a sustainable environment in Thailand,” said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace Thailand.
They called for ASEAN countries to ban the export of waste “from anywhere in the world into the region,” Tara said.
The trash pile-up in Southeast Asia accelerated after China stopped accepting waste in 2018, and Greenpeace says plastic refuse imports have increased by a staggering 171 percent since 2016.
The imported waste is supposed to be recycled, but sometimes arrives mixed with unrecyclable items or is improperly handled and ends up being burnt or leaking into waterways and the sea.
The issue has been in the headlines recently after the Philippines sent a huge shipment of garbage back to Canada, sparking a diplomatic row.
And last week, Indonesia returned five containers of rubbish to the US, saying it refused to be a “dumping ground.”
Thailand currently imports waste from scores of countries, much of it ending up in landfills and waste disposal facilities that have prompted pollution complaints from residents.
“There is air, dust, and water pollution... it burdens the Thai people,” said Jorn Naowaopas, an activist from Chachoengsao province where several dumpsites are located.
The contaminated groundwater run-off and toxic fumes caused by disposing of plastic and electronic waste can cause serious environmental and health problems if not properly treated.
The ASEAN summit, which kicks off Saturday with a foreign ministers meeting, has not put the waste issue on its agenda.
But discussions will have as a “priority” the issue of marine waste because it affects “the food chain of people worldwide,” Thai government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said Wednesday.
In March, ASEAN environment ministers drafted the “Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris,” the first-ever region-wide attempt to tackle plastic waste clogging its waters.