Duterte, Najib agree on ‘combative endeavors’ for security
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have agreed to enter into “combative endeavors” to address maritime security concerns in Southern Philippines, including the kidnapping activities of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group and armed robbery at sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the maritime security issues were among the issued that topped the agenda during the bilateral meeting of Duterte and Najib here.
“We talked about how we can secure and enter into combative endeavors with respect to protecting at sea along the southern part of the Philippines against piracy, other forms of criminality, hostage taking and so on,” Yasay told reporters in an interview at the Marriott Hotel.
He said Najib was “concerned” about the rise of kidnappings in Mindanao and much would have to be done to secure the waters between the two countries.
“We have initially talked about what is called in international law as hot pursuit and we will see how far we can go along this line and make sure that we would be able to interdict piracy in this area and other forms of criminality and make sure that these illegal activities are stopped once and for all. But this would really need the, of post cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines,” Yasay said.
During his visits to Indonesia and Brunei, Duterte also discussed maritime security concerns in the region.
“And so, this was a follow up also to what we have discussed with President Widodo and also with the Sultan of Brunei and we were talking with the Prime Minister of Malaysia,” Yasay said.
The foreign affairs official said mechanisms on how to achieve a more secure sea for the Asian region would be discussed by each country’s respective defense ministers and concerned officials.
“So these are the things that we have seriously agreed upon and the details of which will be undertaken, discussed by the respective defense ministers and other officials concerned and we would like to ensure that an agreement can be immediately executed by all the parties concerned along this line,” he said.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said the Malaysian government was concerned about the rise of sea kidnappings in Mindanao, which involved Malaysian nationals as victims.
“The kidnapping in Sulu Sea not only alarmed Filipinos, but also Malaysia,” Malaya said. “We are preoccupied with the issue. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are serious in addressing the issue in Sulu and Sulawesi seas.”
During his visit to Indonesia, Duterte has agreed to joint coast guard operations to chase and destroy pirates fleeing into Philippine territory in the south.
Early this November, the Abu Sayyaf abducted 69-year-old German Jurgen Gustav Kantner and partner Sabina Wetch when the bandit group chanced upon the couple aboard their yacht cruising the waters off Tanjong Luuk Pisuk in Sabah.
Since the start of 2016, over a dozen Indonesian sailors and a handful of Malaysians have been kidnapped by the ASG as they were traveling in the Sulu Sea between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Despite these series of abductions between the Philippines and Malaysian waters, Malaya said a no-ransom policy should be strictly observed.
“Both sides must stick to the policy because the payment of ransom can only lead to more crimes and kidnappings with the money being used to finance (such activities),” he said. /atm
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