Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have designated a transit corridor for ships crossing a maritime zone hit by a spate of hijackings by Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines.
Close to 20 tugboat crew have been abducted this year in and around the Sulu Sea, leading the Indonesian government to speculate that the area could become like Somalia was eight years ago.
“The ministers have agreed in principle to explore the following measures, including a transit corridor within the maritime areas of common concern, which will serve as designated sea lanes for mariners,” the defence ministers of the three nations said in a joint statement after a meeting in Manila yesterday.
Air and sea patrols and escorts for commercial ships in the common maritime areas will be increased.
Philippine defence secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the leaders agreed to share the best practices evolved by Indonesia and Malaysia during a joint effort to patrol the busy Malacca Strait waterway against pirates, as a model for three-way cooperation with the Philippines.