From Business World (Dec 10): Manila, Jakarta boost military ties
The Philippines and Indonesia have boosted efforts against terrorism and transnational crimes with the inking of a new cooperation document that reinforces a three-decade-old joint border agreement. Admiral Agus Suhartono, commander in chief of the Indonesian National Defense Force, and Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff said after the signing ceremony that the agreement will strengthen cooperation on sharing intelligence information, joint border patrol, operations and exercises, training and education, as well as service-to-service activities.
Mr. Dellosa particularly cited the need to strengthen the sharing of information on anti-terrorism efforts, with both sides set to review protocols and address weak points. Also present at the event, Indonesian Consul General Eko Hartono said the cooperation deal is key to running after transnational criminals who take advantage of so-called porous borders. Manila and Jakarta have a cooperation agreement that goes way back to 1975 when the joint border committee was formed.
Mr. Hartono said the new accord, called Philippine-Indonesia Military Cooperation, has both sides committing to come up with new mechanisms on joint initiatives, including the allocation of "as much resources as possible" to solve crimes that involve their nationals in each other’s areas. The military units will also intensify "coordinated patrols" against terror groups, the Indonesia official said.
The Philippine military has identified the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) as a terrorist group helping the Abu Sayyaf, which has wreaked havoc on security in some parts of the country, particularly in western Mindanao. The Philippine military has even arrested in Mindanao several Indonesians who were tagged as leaders of the JI who trained members of the Abu Sayyaf, particularly in making explosive devices. There were even reports linking the Indonesia-based extremist group into what was earlier referred to as a special operations unit of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Experts on terrorism claimed that JI was behind the two bombs that exploded in 2003 at the Davao airport and wharf that killed 38 people and injured 200 others.
Meanwhile, Mr. Suhartono also turned over relief goods worth $1 million to the Department of Social Welfare and Development as assistance to the victims of typhoon Pablo (international code name: Bopha) for the Davao Region.