Joint Maphilindo Army To Tackle Abu Sayyaf; Training Camp Set In Tawau

The defence ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines
The defence ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines – Hishammuddin Hussein, Ryamizard Ryacudu and Delfin Lorenzana have all agreed to initiate joint efforts to secure the Sulu sea from pirates and cross border criminals. Photo credit Jakarta Post

JAKARTA – It’s an all-out war against the notorious but cowardly Abu Sayyaf – infamous for their cross border crimes, in particular kidnapping hapless tourists and sailors and beheading those who fail to pay ransom.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to initiate joint army training to advance efforts to secure the Sulu Sea from rampant piracy and kidnapping, according to the Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu explained that each of the countries would first begin its own army personnel training in January 2017 before conducting the joint training later in the year.

The military training will take place in Indonesia’s Tarakan in North Kalimantan, Malaysia’s Tawau and the Philippines’ Bongao Island, the report said.

An Abu Sayaf group operating in the islands of southern Philippines.
An Abu Sayaf group operating in the islands of southern Philippines.

Ryamizard said army soldiers set to participate in the joint military training would form a special force tasked with facing the notorious Abu Sayyaf militant group that masterminded a series of recent kidnappings in Sulu waters, located in the south-western Philippines.

“It is part of a concrete action we, ASEAN countries, are taking to secure the region,” he said in Jakarta.

The Post also quoted Ryamizard as saying that the training locations would later become posts for a joint taskforce assigned to help secure Sulu waters.

The need for joint army training was discussed during a meeting between Ryamizard and his Malaysian and Philippines counterparts, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Delfin Lorenzana, held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) retreat earlier this week in Laos.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines welcomed the initiative, which will add to a joint sea patrol in Sulu waters that the three countries previously agreed upon.