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.

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother to be re-filed in Massachusetts court

Updated 28 January 2020

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother to be re-filed in Massachusetts court

  • The move was intended to force Sheikh Khaled, who had been avoiding being served, to acknowledge and accept legal service
  • Two former contractors alleged they were denied wages and threatened by Sheikh Khaled after they refused his orders to kill two people

The attorney for two former contractors suing Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani, the brother of the Emir of Qatar, has asked a Florida Federal Court judge to dismiss their lawsuit so they can re-file the claims before a different Federal court in Massachusetts.

The former contractors alleged they were denied wages and threatened by Sheikh Khaled after they refused his orders to kill two people. The original lawsuit had Sheikh Khaled as the principle defendant but on Nov. 5, 2019 it was expanded to include race car company Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, which Sheikh Khaled owns.

The move was intended to force Sheikh Khaled, who had been avoiding being served, to acknowledge and accept legal service.

Failing to serve a defendant or a defendant’s business assets can result in the lawsuit being thrown out by a judge in the American judicial system.

The expansion of the lawsuit worked. After ignoring the lawsuit for more than seven months, lawyers for both Sheikh Khaled and Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, filed responses. They asked the Federal Court on Jan. 2 this year to dismiss the Pittard/Allende lawsuit, arguing Florida lacked Federal jurisdiction over the case.

According to Bloomberg Markets, Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, is based in Duxbury, Massachusetts, although it has an office in Florida.

“After the Pittard case complaint was amended, several individuals bravely stepped forward to share their stories and experiences with the defendants in the Pittard case,” said Rebecca Castaneda, the attorney for security professional Matthew Pittard and paramedic Matthew Allende, who are seeking $33 million in damages.

“In light of the information that they have provided, and the new plaintiffs’ claims and causes of actions against the defendants and others, we have requested that the Pittard case be dismissed from the Middle District of Florida.

“The cases of Matthew Pittard and Matthew Allende will be supplemented with additional legal claims and information that has been obtained and re-filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the District of Massachusetts.”

Sheikh Khaled’s attorney, Alejandro Soto, of the Florida law firm Fridman Fels and Soto, PLLC, argued in their motion to dismiss in January that Sheikh Khaled had no legal presence in Florida and that Florida’s Federal courts had no jurisdiction over his actions.

“While the amended complaint invokes Florida law, it otherwise fails to allege any facts supporting Sheikh Khaled’s contacts with the state,” Soto said in his Jan. 2 dismissal demand.

“By all accounts — including plaintiffs’— Sheikh Khaled is a citizen of the state of Qatar whose domicile and primary residence — both during the time period alleged in the amended complaint and now — have always been in Qatar.

“Moreover, the amended complaint does not allege a single fact suggesting that any of the alleged conduct giving rise to this case occurred in or arose from Sheikh Khaled’s contacts with Florida. Indeed, the only alleged connection that Florida has with this case is plaintiff Matthew Pittard’s alleged residence in it.”

Attorneys for Al-Anabi Racing LLC, Armando Rosquete and Javier A. Reyes of the Bell Rosquete Reyes Esteban, PLLC law firm, argued that Sheikh Khaled was not employed by Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC and claimed Florida lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

“Contrary to this settled jurisdictional jurisprudence, plaintiffs failed to plead any facts to establish personal jurisdiction or even provide a factual framework under which this court could analyse personal jurisdiction,” Reyes and Rosquete said in their Jan. 2 dismissal demand.

“Indeed, other than an unsupported conclusory allegation in a single paragraph, plaintiffs include no jurisdictional facts that connect Al-Anabi to Florida. Plaintiffs do not allege that they were injured in Florida, nor do they allege any facts regarding Al-Anabi’s contacts with the state.

“The amended complaint is devoid of facts that could — even when analysed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs — show that the purported injury or other conduct alleged even occurred in Florida,” Reyes and Rosquete added.

Attorneys Reyes, Rosquete and Soto all failed to respond to repeated inquiries for comment on their dismissal filings.

Pittard and Allende alleged in the lawsuit, originally filed on July 23, 2019 before Federal Judge Thomas P. Barber, that Sheikh Khaled ordered them to kill two individuals who posted negative and embarrassing comments about the sheikh on social media.

According to Castaneda, Sheikh Khaled ordered the killing of a Los Angeles-based drug dealer who was trying to blackmail the sheikh with claims he had compromising photos and videos of the sheikh.

“We don’t know the veracity of the drug dealer’s claims, but the sheikh took them seriously and he wanted Pittard and Allende to kill the blackmailer,” Castaneda said.

In another case, Castaneda said Sheikh Khaled allegedly ordered the two security contractors to murder a Moroccan woman who was a friend of the sheikh’s wife. Castaneda said Sheikh Khaled feared the woman was feeding embarrassing information about him to a Saudi national at a time when his brother, Emir Al-Thani, and Qatar were in an international row with Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries.

Pittard and Allende allege they were threatened at gunpoint by an angry Sheikh Khaled when they refused his orders in September 2017 to murder the two individuals he suspected had sullied his social reputation. The lawsuit claims Sheikh Khaled's threats against Pittard and Allende continued to escalate.