Western Mindanao Commander Major General Carlito Galvez Jr said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is willing to welcome its counterparts from neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia, in an attempt to track down Abu Sayyaf bandits for good.
This is possible under the trilateral agreement last signed between the three countries, allowing the maritime presence of both Indonesian and Malaysian forces in the coasts of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The three countries are also planning to create an area for the deployment of the navy and air force units on a rotational basis. As of the moment, the three participants are in works to discuss the finalization of the standard operating procedure which will be signed by their respective security leaders.
Galvez also said that the Philippines already has an existing agreement and that this was expanded in order to include Malaysia. The area has been a subject of concern as pirates have been sighted in the Celebes and the Sulu Sea, and the waters region of the Indonesian Territory.
I a set of recent operations conducted by joint forces of the PNP and the AFP, three Malaysian nationals were rescued from the bandits. They are now turned over to the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Fandy Bakran, Mohd Jumadil Rahim and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail were sent to Manila on Tuesday and off to Kuala Lumpur. Abd Rahim Summas and Tayudin Ajut were rescued earlier. All five were identified as crew members of Serundung 3 which was seized by the bandits in July of last year.
Reports had confirmed that there are no more Malaysian nationals held as hostages by the Abu Sayyaf, however, the group had abducted two more people in the aftermath of the military’s successful rescue.
The military is still pursuing its aggressive campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.