The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte asks China to help patrol southern Philippines

January 31, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he asked China to help in patrolling the high seas in southern part of the Philippines where piracy and kidnapping activities have been rampant.

In a speech during the oath-taking ceremony of newly-promoted military officials in Malacanang, Duterte disclosed Indonesia sent on Monday night a special emissary to Manila due to the new report of kidnapping of Indonesians in southern part of the Philippines. He did not elaborate on the new incident.

Duterte said he reminded the special emissary by the central government of Jakarta regarding the agreement the Philippines and Indonesia as well as Malaysia forged in patrolling the borders near Malacca Strait and the Sulu Sea.

"You know, we have this agreement. We have this understanding. Put it into practice. Allow more ships," Duterte said.

He added: "by the way, I also asked China. They can patrol the international waters without necessarily intruding into the territorial waters of countries. We would be glad if they have their presence there."

Duterte said it does not mean that Chinese "gray ships" or the Navy vessels would patrol the area, but it could be coast guard cutters.

"Just to patrol like what they did in Somalia. They helped there. Somalia has toned down. But here in Malacca Strait and also in Sulu Sea remains to be a big problem," he said, noting that if that sea route would be closed, vessels need to pass to other routes, which could mean higher costs, thus, adding to the prices of goods and services.

There were several instances in the past where Indonesian cargo vessels have been hijacked and their crew members were kidnapped by alleged members of local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

In the same speech, Duterte asked the military to ensure the operation against local terrorist groups, which have link to the international terrorist group, Islamic State, be contained in Mindanao.

"There is a fight at least going on, limited in Mindanao. We have to contain the fighting in Mindanao. We cannot just uphold, to allow them to spread," he said, citing the reported presence of "four to six" Arab scholars lecturing about the ISIS.

Duterte earlier said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who was reportedly severely hurt in the ongoing military operation in Lanao del Sur is the top honcho of the ISIS in the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS