The Philippines and Indonesia further deepened their defense and security relations following Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana’s virtual meeting with his Indonesian counterpart where Manila and Jakarta’s border patrol cooperation with Malaysia along with wide-ranging regional issues were discussed.
Lorenzana’s meeting with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto afforded the two leaders to “exchange views” on current regional security issues and on the trilateral maritime patrol agreement between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The agreement allows the three countries’ maritime forces to jointly conduct patrols within their common maritime borders to deter crimes on the high seas and other sea-borne violations, and check the movement of criminal groups and syndicates.
“Minister Prabowo thanked the Philippines for its assistance in the rescue of Indonesian fishermen, who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group [ASG], earlier this year,” the Department of National Defense said in a statement through its spokesman Arsenio “Popong” Andolong.
The ASG has in the past been doing maritime crossing into Sabah where they abduct victims and take them to Sulu for ransom negotiations. When former Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. retired from the service last August, the ASG is no longer holding any captive.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Lorenzana and Prabowo welcomed the continued engagements of the defense and military establishments of the two countries.
Aside from virtually meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Lorenzana also welcomed Israel Ambassador Ilan Fluss during his introductory call on the defense secretary where both discussed issues, including Israel’s assistance to the ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Israel has supplied the Philippine Navy with Spike-ER missiles and it will build eight gunboats known as fast attack interdiction craft of the Navy. It has also strengthened the capability of the Air Force’s FA-50 fighter jets.
“Secretary Lorenzana and Ambassador Fluss discussed the status of Philippines-Israel defense and military partnership, specifically the ongoing procurement of defense equipment, Covid-19 pandemic response, and common defense and security issues,” Andolong said.
“The Ambassador encouraged the continued procurement of equipment for the enhancement of AFP’s capabilities, and looked forward to the convening of the upcoming Philippines-Israel Joint Committee Meeting [JCM], which will be held in Israel,” he added.
Andolong said that both sides also discussed the ongoing negotiation of a broad-ranging memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation, which will become the primary framework for defense and military cooperation for both countries.