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Duterte apologizes to Widodo

JAKARTA, Indonesia – In his first official visit to Indonesia, President Rodrigo R. Duterte apologized to President Joko Widodo for the recent spate of kidnappings of Indonesian sailors by the armed men in waters off Sulu Sea.

This, as the two leaders expressed grave concern on maritime security, to which both agreed to further intensify maritime cooperation, particularly in waters bordering the neighboring countries.

“I am very sorry Mr. President that sometimes the shipments of even the coal that is needed by the power plants of my country are hampered (when) crossing that area there because there is a lot of piracy,” Duterte said during his meeting with Widodo at the State Palace.

It can be recalled that several Indonesian sailors have been seized by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) since March off Sulu Sea.
Some of the victims though have been released by the terror group reportedly after paying ransom.

Duterte acknowledged that these kidnapping incidents had become a major problem.

And as the Philippines and Indonesia agreed to intensify maritime cooperation, Duterte expressed hope that “that there will be no more such security issues in the Sulu Sea.”

“We discussed ways of strengthening existing bilateral cooperation and identified new areas of partnership, including maritime security and law enforcement. We agreed to step up joint measures to address the issue of piracy and lawlessness in the waters in our region,” Duterte said. (Elena L. Aben)