MANILA—Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año is looking at possible joint patrol with Indonesia and Malaysia to prevent kidnapping attacks at sea by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other lawless elements.
The patrols, if approved by the heads of states of the three nations, would be deployed in “common sea of interest,” the military official said late Thursday.
“There are existing protocols regarding information sharing and coordination on maritime patrols within respective territorial limit. But we want to increase it like having a joint task force to patrol ‘common sea of interest’ but that this is still a proposal,” Año said.
He said consultations are now ongoing with his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts.
Earlier, ASG bandits conducted a series of attacks against Malaysian and Indonesian tugs and coal carriers, abducting dozens of crew members in the process.
This prompted the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to agree to explore the idea of joint air patrols in transit corridors considered by the three nations as maritime areas of common concern.
The bandits still hold 31 hostages, most of whom are Indonesian and Malaysian seafarers.