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Philippines/Indonesia: Agreement on Border Issues

(Feb. 28, 2018) Following a meeting of high-ranking officials of the Philippines and Indonesia, it was announced on January 10, 2018, that the two countries had agreed to a number of measures aimed at increasing trade and curbing terrorism. (Lilian Mellejor, PH, Indonesia to Intensify Cross-Border Cooperation, PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY (PNA) (Jan. 10, 2018).)

The area surrounding the border between the countries has been the locus of such illegal activities as kidnappings, smuggling, terrorism, and piracy. (Gustavo Guerra, Indonesia/Philippines/Malaysia: Agreement on Patrolling Shared Maritime Border, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 30, 2017).) Militants and arms crossing the border between the Philippines and Indonesia have been of particular concern recently, according to news reports. (See, e.g., Joseph Hincks, Indonesia Says It Can’t Prevent Islamist Militants or Arms from Crossing Its Border with the Philippines, TIME (Apr. 26, 2017); Richard C. Paddock, In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS, NY TIMES (May 26, 2017); Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Trial of Terrorist in Jakarta Sheds Light on Arms Trail from Southern Philippines to Indonesia, STRAITS TIMES (Feb. 2, 2018).)

A 1975 agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia regulates border crossings. (Revised Agreement on Border Crossing Between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Indonesia (Mar. 11, 1975).) Since that time, there have been regular formal meetings between the two countries’ officials responsible for border security; the January meeting was the thirty-sixth such meeting. (Mellejor, supra.)

At the January meeting, the Philippines and Indonesia reaffirmed their existing mutual understanding on border relations. They agreed to increase border-crossing stations, adopt measures aimed at improving safe passage of Indonesians and Filipinos between both countries, and develop recommendations to enhance cross-border cooperation and maritime defense. (Id.)