After Marawi terror, military heightens alert on PH-Indonesia maritime border
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine military is keeping an eye on its maritime boarder with Indonesia for possible movement of persons tied with terror activities in Southeast Asia, even as they say the area is only often crossed by fishermen from both countries.
“We’re doing this to prevent a possible spillover,” Lieutenant James Reyes, spokesperson of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, told Rappler in an interview on Wendnesday, October 18.
Reyes was referring to a potential attack from terrorist groups following the death of the top leaders of armed groups behind the prolonged war in Marawi City.
But he explained that the military’s efforts to guard the said maritime border has always been high priority even though the area is relatively of low risk in terms of the movement of terrorist groups.
“Technically, crossing from another area of responsibility is considered a breach of security,” he said.
The Philippines and Indonesia have been coordinating in guarding the said area in a renewed military cooperation.
In 2014, both states signed an agreement that drew a boundary between Indonesia and the Philippines’ overlapping exclusive economic zones, which would help fishermen from both countries in the long run.
Major Ezra Balagtey, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command, said among those who often encounter trouble at the border are fishermen who do not intend to cross territories.
“Usually the cases are Filipino fishermen whose boats drift into another terroritory. But Indonesian border patrol would help them return back to the Philippines,” said Balagtey.
But as security risks in Mindanao have been heightened since the Marawi siege, they said they are always on the watch against terror activities.
In September, the military renovated two of its Philippines-Indonesia border crossing stations in Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, and another on the island of Balut in the province of Davao Occidental. – Rappler.com