The Director General of the Protection of Indonesian Citizens and the Indonesian Legal Entity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, stated that trilateral patrol cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines needs to be reviewed, given the abduction of two fishing crew members Indonesian Citizens by armed groups in Samporna Waters, Sabah, Malaysia, on 11 September. To the media at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakarta, Wednesday (September 19), Muhammad Iqbal said, there was something wrong with the trilateral patrol cooperation that had been running for more than one year. Because since the cooperation was carried out, there have never been any more kidnappings in the waters of Sabah or around the Sulu Sea. Therefore, the ministry wants a review and strengthen the Trilateral Patrol cooperation.
“In 2016, President Jokowi initiated a trilateral Jogja meeting, where the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister and Armed Forces Commander of the three countries were directly invited by President Jokowi to meet. Well, from that meeting, it later developed into a trilateral cooperation called Coordinated Joint Patrol. That was done, so the safeguards were carried out in a coordinated manner in three regions, regions of Indonesia, the Philippines region, the territory of Malaysia which was adjacent to the Sulu Sea. And if we look at it, the standard operating procedure will be effective around January 2017, and since then, there has been no hostage-taking until the 11th. So something went wrong with that good cooperation. So in the future the direction is to re-strengthen the existing cooperation,” Muhammad Iqbal said.
Furthermore, Muhammad Iqbal explained that the temporary measures taken by the Indonesian Government is to respond to the abduction of two crew of the fishing vessels namely Syamsul Saguni and Usman Yunus, the Indonesian Consulate General in Tawau issued an appeal to Indonesian citizens working in the fisheries sector, especially in the Sabah and Sulu waters. They are asked not to temporarily go to sea. The appeal will only be revoked if the security situation is seen to be conducive by the local security authorities. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has communicated with Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs to request security guarantees for Indonesian citizens working in the Sabah waters. Meanwhile, the Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines, Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, had previously also held a meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to discuss cooperation in the trilateral patrols of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines which would be upgraded to trilateral joint operations. (VOI/Rezha/AHM)