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

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.


UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.