PH hosts Indonesia in border security meet

By Martin Sadondong

The Philippine government is hosting the Republic of Indonesia in a bid to further fortify the two countries’ diplomatic relations relative to their border crossing.

(AFP-EASTMINCOM / MANILA BULLETIN) Lieutenant General Felimon Santos, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief, and Rear Admiral Heru Kusmato, commander of Indonesia Second Fleet Command, meet during the three-day 38th Republic of the Philippines-Republic of Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen's Conference in Davao City on Tuesday. (AFP-EASTMINCOM / MANILA BULLETIN)

The 38th Republic of the Philippines-Republic of Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen's Conference started on Tuesday and will conclude on Thursday in Lanang, Davao City.

Lieutenant General Felimon Santos, EastMimCom chief, serves as the chairman of the Republic of the Philippines Border Committee while Rear Admiral Heru Kusmato, commander of  Indonesia Second Fleet Command, is the chairman of Republic of Indonesia Border Committee.

Lieutenant Colonel Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the AFP-EastMinCom, said the meeting seeks "to review and strengthen the existing measures to ensure the safe passage of the respective nationals of both countries, to include the protection of fisherfolk in the border areas en route to the fishing grounds at high seas."

The border between the Philippines and Indonesia lies mainly on a maritime boundary in the Celebes Sea.

The two countries also have an existing trilateral maritime cooperation on border security with Malaysia that was finalized in 2018.

The maritime cooperation is aimed at preventing lawless elements such as pirates, smugglers, and foreign and local terrorists from using the southern backdoor as their entry and exit points to and from the concerned countries.

Balagtey said both countries have agreed to continuously intensify the conduct of coordinated patrol operations that will seek to ensure security and maritime control in the common borders.

"Considering the porous shorelines of the archipelagic domains, both Committees also looked into the Border Crossing Stations (BCS) situated at common border areas in order to provide a systematic scheme in closely monitoring the entry and exit of nationals of both countries," Balagtey said.

Balagtey also said that the committees sought to jumpstart the review of the 1975 Border Patrol and Border Crossing Agreements.