35th PH-Indonesia border meeting in Surabaya

OFFICIALS from Philippines and Indonesia are set to meet at the 35th Philippines-Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s Conference (BCCC) in Surabaya, Indonesia on October 25 to 28 to discuss border-related issues.

Gerardo Ramon Cesar Reynaldo, head of Area Management Office – South Central Mindanao of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) said during Wednesday's Habi at Kape media forum at the Abreeza Ayala Mall, some of the important issues to take centerstage during the four-day meeting are the maritime issues in the Mindanao and Celebes Sea and some proposed amendments of the existing 1975 Border Patrol and Border Crossing Agreements.

“There are some two or three proposed amendments but this is just the start of the proposal, we just want to get the feedbacks from those in the upper ranks,” he said.

The long-implemented treaty, he said, needs revision to meet the requirements of the times. The original agreement was signed and agreed during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos and former President Haji Mohamed Suharto, the second president of Indonesia. When the treaty was inked on 1975, Reynaldo noted no issues on human trafficking and drug involvements were recorded.

Held annually, the BCCC is the primary platform where the Border Committees of the Philippines and Indonesia discuss border-related issues.

Other concerns that are expected to be tackled are security issues, fishing, trafficking, operation of patrols and entry of the Philippine and Indonesian waters.

Reynaldo added, the influx of foreign nationals entering the back door in Saranggani province is still a perennial problem. However, Indonesia has set a new policy, "triumph of the seas" which equates on more interesting rules of securing their waters. On the other hand, there is no assurance that the amendment and negotiations will be upheld immediately.

The issue and settlement will clarify the issues of both Indonesia and Filipino fishermen.

Last year, the conference was hosted by Davao City through the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Laksda Tni Darwanto, chairman of the Indonesian border committee said last year that there is a need to enhance cooperation addressing border and maritime concerns of the two biggest archipelagic states of the world.

The sub-committee on order patrol and communications discussed the need to consider the inclusion of civilian maritime law enforcement agencies in conducting coordinated patrols.

Also, updating the medium of communications used during maritime patrol operations, and cover other transnational and organized crimes (such as drug trafficking and migrant smuggling) in the list of border offenses is also needed.

Other issues discussed last year were the “deployment of immigration and customs officers and documentation issues, as well as intelligence and information sharing procedures in the border crossing stations.” (Benette Ira Mae C. Cruz, ADDU Intern/with ASP)
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