PH, Indonesia agree to expedite revision of joint border patrol, crossing agreements

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Indonesian President Joko Widodo met on Wednesday and discussed a range of regional issues, including developments in the South China Sea and closer cooperation among member states of the Southeast Asian bloc.

In a joint press statement in Malacañang after the two leaders’ bilateral meeting, Marcos said they had a fruitful and honest discussion about events in the South China Sea, saying that they both stood by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

”President Widodo and I had a fruitful and honest discussion on regional events of mutual interest such as the developments in South China Sea and ASEAN cooperation and initiative,” Marcos said.

”And speaking of ASEAN, as founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the Philippines and Indonesia affirmed our insistence on the universality of UNCLOS, which sets out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and in the seas,” he added.

The Philippines has referred to parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone as the West Philippines Sea.

Marcos said the two countries, being immediate neighbors and fellow archipelagic states, have agreed to continue their cooperation on political and security matters, noting the recently concluded Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) headed by their respected foreign ministers.

Marcos mentioned that advancements have been made on several action points in the JCBC’s Plan of Action that was inked on September 5, 2022 during his state visit to Indonesia.

Border patrol

For his part, Jokowi said they have also agreed to hasten the revision of the border patrol agreements between Manila and Jakarta.

“In the field of politics and security, we have agreed to strengthen border cooperation and I conveyed the importance of revisions of border patrol agreement and border crossing agreement,” Jokowi said.

Jokowi is in Manila from January 10 to 11 for an official visit.

Indonesia is the first country that Marcos visited since he took office in 2022.

In March 2023, Indonesian Ambassador Agus Widjojo said it is important for the Philippines and Indonesia to review existing legal framework regarding border patrol and security and counter-terrorism cooperation as non-traditional threats and cross-border crimes persist. — with Reuters/RSJ, GMA Integrated News