Navy forces of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines began joint exercises near a military base on Boneo island, northern Indonesia, on June 19.
The exercises also marked the launching of their coordinated maritime patrols to intensify the fight against Islamic militants who have laid siege to a southern Philippine city.
Helicopters and surveillance planes flew overhead as ministers and army chiefs from the countries attended a ceremony to launch the patrols. The move came after Islamic militants attacked Marawi city on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines. Singapore and Brunei also participated in the event as observers.
The same day, Indonesia also inaugurated a navy command centre at the Tarakan base in North Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Two other command centres will be established in Tawau of Malaysia and Bongao of the Philippines.
Indonesian defence officers said that the centres will coordinate the joint patrols and share information, ensuring regional security. A mobile police brigade has also been deployed to northern areas on Sulawesi island to prevent militants from crossing the border.
Addressing the event, Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu stressed that maintaining maritime security is the common duty of ASEAN member countries. Indonesia’s navy asked local people, including fishermen, to report any suspects to security forces.
Colonel Didik Krisyanto, commander of the Tarakan air base, said three Sukhoi fighters have been deployed to prevent militants from penetrating into Indonesia.