OUTGOING Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday confirmed that the Philippines and Indonesia have forged an agreement allowing the latter’s security forces to cross into Philippine territory if they are in pursuit of criminals or terrorists.
Speaking to journalists at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Gazmin said the agreement was based on the 1975 border deal that applies the principle of hot pursuit.
“Pwedeng habulin ng forces nila ang isang kriminal or terorista kung nangyari dun sa area nila at tumakbo papunta sa area natin sa dagat [Their forces can pursue a criminal or a terrorist if a crime happened in their area and (the culprit) flees toward Philippine waters],” according to the Defense secretary.
If, however, the transgression happened on land, a coordinated operation would be conducted and the Indonesian forces would not be allowed to carry firearms, Gazmin explained.
“Pero ito coordinated with the government so kinakailangan ng consent natin bago sila makapasok sa lupa natin, but sa dagat pagka hot pursuit pwede yun, nangyari sa teroritoryo nila yung kidnapping, for example, nangyari sa teritoryo nila, hinabol nila, pumasok sa area natin pwede yun but we will have to be informed about the incident [But this one, it should be coordinated with the government, so they need our consent before they can enter our territory. But if it is hot pursuit at sea, they can be allowed (to enter). For example, if the kidnapping happened in their territory, they conducted pursuit operations and the kidnappers entered our area, they would be allowed],” he said.
Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits last week seized seven Indonesian tugboat crew off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi.
In this particular case, the Defense chief said, the principle of hot pursuit cannot be applied because the crime happened in Philippine territory.
Indonesian authorities, according to Gazmin, could only help in “operations” by giving information to their Filipino counterparts.
A Jakarta Post report said the Indonesian government will wait for the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to provide details to an agreement that will allow Indonesia to join security operations with the Philippines should another hostage-taking incident occur in the future.
Last month, Gazmin and Malaysia and Indonesia’s ministers of defense Hashimudin and Ryacudu, respectively vowed to ensure sharing of relevant information and to this end direct their respective intelligence units to be more open in sharing databases of criminals.
The Philippines regularly conducts coordinated patrols with Indonesia while the Philippines has signed an anti-smuggling agreement with Malaysia.
Defense officials said the idea of coordinated patrols is in accordance with the Joint Declaration on Immediate Measures in the Maritime Areas of Common Concern, which was signed by the three countries’ foreign ministers and chiefs of defense forces on May 5.