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Indonesia instructs commercial vessels to avoid piracy-prone waters around southern Philippines

[JAKARTA] The Indonesian Navy has instructed all commercial vessels to avoid piracy-prone waters around the southern Philippines, a spokesman for the Indonesian military said on Thursday, following a spate of kidnappings and piracy in recent weeks.

"The Indonesian Navy, through the Western Sea Security Cluster, is increasing the intensity of patrols up to the exclusive economic zone border with the Philippines and Malaysia to prevent acts of piracy and hijacking," Indonesian military spokesman Tatang Sulaiman told Reuters in a text message.

The busy shipping route along Indonesia's maritime border with the Philippines carries US$40 billion worth of cargo each year, notably fully laden supertankers from the Indian Ocean that cannot use the crowded Malacca Strait.

"The most important thing for the Indonesian military is how in the near term to implement an MOU (memorandum) on coordinated patrols between Indonesian, Philippine and Malaysian armed forces in that maritime region," Mr Sulaiman said.

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