PH launches trilateral air patrol with Indonesia, Malaysia

Bandera (Mindanao) - - NEWS - By John Roson

DEFENSE officials from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia on Thursday launched joint air patrols to secure a vast maritime boundary now being plagued by terrorists, a military official said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año joined their counterparts from Indonesia and Malaysia during the launching of the patrols at Malaysia's Subang Air Base.

The agreement on the joint air patrols will complement an existing agreement on maritime patrols which the three countries already have, said AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, who was also in Malaysia for the event.

"Trade passing thru our southern seas and maritime areas of common concern amounts to US$40 billion annually. This is definitely an area of common concern. Terrorists have and are now using these areas as transshipment points and avenues of movement," Padilla said.

"Air assets will regularly patrol areas of common concern, especially in light of the threat posed by the Daesh," he said, referring to the other name for the terrorist group popularly known as Islamic State.

Air patrols will be carried out from designated staging points -- Bongao in Tawi-Tawi for the Philippines, Tarakan for Indonesia, and Tawau for Malaysia.

"Each country will take turns leading the mission thru a designated mission commander, using air assets of the 'host country,'" Padilla said.

A host country will use its air assets with other nations patrol teams aboard, and patrols will be monitored from a coordinating center, he said.

"In order to maximize resources from all sides, it will be one side taking on the task one at a time," Padilla added.

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