THE Philippines and Indonesia reaffirmed bilateral cooperation and commitment to work hand-in-hand in intensifying coordinated patrol operations on its common boarders to prevent transnational crimes and terrorism in the southern region during the 36th Border Committee Chairmen’s conference at SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier, Davao City.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) commander Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said that the event will bolster the effort of both country to establish strong security measures in territorial waters to facilitate future trade activities in the region.

During the two-day conference which started on January 8, both delegation had a sharing of ideas on how to further improve the maritime patrolling and interoperability and how to address common concerns and interests to prevent illegal activities transpiring in the sea waters between the two countries.

“In support to the intent of President Rodrigo Dutette, as a result of his meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi here in Davao last week, the committee agreed to intensify the conduct of Coordinated Patrol operations that will seek to ensure security and maritime control in our common boarder,” Madrigal said.

The committee, he said, “agreed to look into measures to improve the safe passage of respective nationals, to include fisher folks, in the border areas. This effort will contribute in uplifting the economic well-being of respective countrymen while assuring their protection enroute to the fishing grounds at high seas.”

They also target to increase the number of Boarder Crossing Stations (BCS) strategically located at common border areas and to further strengthen the operational functions of the existing BCSs. At present, Eastmincom has two BCS located in Cape San Agustin in Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental and Sarangani, Davao Occidental.

“This effort will provide a systematic scheme in closely monitoring the entry and exit of the nationals of both countries with the hands-on involvement of each country's immigration, quarantine and customs bureau,” he added.

Both countries also mutually agreed to include concerned military units and government agencies in the Border Committee as well as establishing a definitive hotline between naval commander in order to immediately address developing situations and other challenges of the current time.

“It is also the intent of both Committees to jumpstart the review of the 1975 Border Patrol and Border Crossing Agreements that will seek to recommend amendments of its provisions in order to improve maritime security cooperation between our countries,” he added.

Commander of Eastern Fleet Command Rear Admiral Didik Setiyono extended his gratitude to the Philippine counterparts for the hospitality and vowed to cooperate with them in attaining the common security goals.