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DND: Indonesian forces allowed to enter PHL maritime zone

Indonesian security forces have been allowed to enter Philippine maritime zones in hot pursuit situations to strengthen the collective commitment to address transnational crimes, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

“Consistent with the 1975 border crossing agreement, Indonesian security forces are allowed to enter PH maritime zones under the concept of hot pursuit in the same way that PH forces are allowed to enter Indonesian maritime zones,” DND spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said in a statement.

“Further to this, in such incidents PH security forces are as well immediately informed so that a coordinated and joint operation could immediately be undertaken. This is a move to further strengthen collective commitment to address, prevent and resolve transnational crimes,” Galvez added.

A report from Jakarta Post said the Indonesian government will await for the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to assume office before they finalize an agreement with the Philippines on joint security operations should another hostage-taking incident take place. 

The announcement came a week after seven Indonesian sailors were kidnapped by armed men believed to be Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu Sea

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the kidnap victims are in good condition though being constantly moved around by the group, which has recently executed two Canadian nationals it kidnapped from a resort in Samal Island last year. 

Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the Indonesian government is still deliberating the measures of the agreement but would be followed up once the new administration starts.

Luhut, however, did not disclose any details of the agreement in the Jakarta Post report.

For his part, outgoing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the agreement was spurred by the government's resolve to crush the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

"Kailangan nating i-solve ito, malaking issue na ito na nasisira ang image natin in the international community," he told reporters.

Gazmin added it was also in Indonesia's interest to enter such arrangement since the hostages are their citizens.

"Kailangan din nilang makisama sa arrangement kasi sila ang biktima," he said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Defense Minsiter Ryamizard Ryacudu expressed confidence the Duterte administration would not change the Philippines' stance allowing Indonesian security forces to enter its territory once another Filipino militant group kidnaps their sailors.

Ryamizard added incoming Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana was present during his coordination meeting with outgoing DND Sec. Voltiare Gazmin in Indonesia on Sunday. —Joseph Tristan Roxas/KBK, GMA News