The Philippines government has granted permission for Malaysian vessels in hot pursuit of kidnappers to enter Philippine waters said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The approval was granted by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte during a bilateral meeting held in conjunction with the Philippines president’s two-day official visit to Malaysia yesterday.
Najib said if Malaysian vessels were in hot pursuit of kidnappers who cross into the Philippine waters Malaysian vessels can continue their pursuit across the border.
“Duterte granted the permission to ensure kidnappers do not get away.
“Duterte only requested for the Malaysian enforcement unit to inform the Philippines army when on pursuit in the Philippine waters,” said Najib after meeting Duterte and his delegation.
Najib said it was the latest approval given by Duterte.
The Prime Minister said the Defense Ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia would meet in Vientiane, Laos on Nov 22 to discuss the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and the legal aspects involved during the hot pursuit.
Najib said the latest development was a sign of the commitment from the Philippines government to curb kidnapping incidents involving Malaysians in Sabah.
“Malaysia and the Philippines agreed that the issue (kidnapping) was very serious and affected the peace and harmony of the people in Sabah,” he said.
This year alone, 10 Malaysians have been kidnapped for ransom and from the total five are still held captive by the kidnappers for ransom.
Asked when the ‘hot pursuit’ could start, Najib said it would be enforced as soon as possible after the defense ministers had worked out the SOP.
“This new development is a practical way to helping each other because we really need to stamp out the kidnapping affecting the security and welfare, not only for Sabahans but also foreigners who are visiting us,” said Najib.
Najib said Duterte had also agreed to Malaysia’s request to depot 7,000 Filipino illegal immigrants detained in Sabah.
A proposal to set up a Philippines consular general’s office in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah would also be considered.