MANILA, Philippines – The three neighboring countries Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are set to start their joint sea patrol in southern Philippine waters amid threats of terrorism and the ongoing siege of Marawi City in Mindanao.
The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia earlier agreed to conduct joint maritime patrol of waters surrounding their respective coasts as part of cooperation on increasing security to prevent entry of terrorists into the countries.
Top Defense officials from the three ASEAN states will meet in Tarakan Island, Indonesia next week to discuss the matters and sign the agreement.
The patrol will immediately start the next day after signing the agreement, according to Indonesian Defense Force Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo.
However, it remains unclear whether the agreement will include Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to allow cross-border of their security forces when pursuing criminals.
Last week, an Indonesian official claimed there are about 2,000 ISIS militants in the Philippines and most of them are involved in Marawi.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted receiving reports of foreign fighters – Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean – in Marawi, but their exact number has yet to be verified.