THE Philippines and Indonesia on Wednesday signed a border agreement that will enhance the security cooperation between the two countries.
The agreement covers six areas of cooperation on the water boundaries of the Philippines and Indonesia and includes the grant of navigational lane. It also allows Philippine fishing vessels to pass through the Indonesian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on the way to the high seas.
It was signed by Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz and his Indonesian counterpart, Maj. Gen. Tni Bachtiar in Panacan, Davao City during the 32nd Philippines-Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s Conference.
Cruz and Bachtiar head their respective countries, border committees.
“This confidence-building measure improves our security relations as evidenced by our willingness to exchange information to protect our mutual interest,” Cruz said.
Eastmincom spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber said the other agenda were the setting of guidelines on the type and size of vessels and the mandatory safety equipment on the vessels crossing the border, extending the area of coordinated patrol operation up to Sulu islands; modifying the concept of operation and coordinated patrol; harmonizing border crossing stations’ standing operating procedures in both Philippines and Indonesia; and assignment of customs personnel at border crossing stations and restricting transportation of contrabands across the borders.
The Philippines and Indonesia are signatories to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which also defines the 220-mile EEZ of signatory countries.
Signed in 1982 by 163 countries including China, the accord aims to govern the use of offshore areas and sets territorial limits of coastal countries.
But although China is among the signatories, it refuses to honor the UNCLOS in its territorial dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia over some reefs, shoals, islands and islets in the Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea, also known as South China Sea, and as well as in its dispute with Japan and South Korea, among other countries.
China has instead imposed its so-called nine-dash line map that claims the entire West Philippine Sea as its territory.