BILATERAL MEETING. Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Indonesian President Joko Widodo shake hands during their bilateral meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java, Indonesia on Monday (Sept. 5, 2022). Widodo invited Marcos to continue developing trade potential and connectivity on the Indonesia-Philippine border. (Photo from Bongbong Marcos Facebook page)

MANILA – Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday invited President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to continue developing trade potential and connectivity on the Indonesia-Philippines border.

“I invite the Philippines to continue developing trade potentials as well as connectivity in border areas,” Widodo said in a joint statement after his bilateral meeting with Marcos at the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java.

In particular, Widodo said he proposed the revitalization of shipping routes – roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) shipping routes between Bitung and Davao and reopening of Manado-Davao flight route.

Compared to last year, he said trade between Indonesia and the Philippines increased by almost 50 percent.

“Indonesia, in particular, encouraged the increase of export of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, coconut, and seaweed products,” he added.

Likewise, Widodo said he looks forward to intensified cooperation in infrastructure and strategic industries.

“...A number of Indonesian SOEs [state-owned enterprises] have participated in development programs in the Philippines. For instance, the procurement project of two-landing platform dock vessels by PT PAL and the railway signaling project in Manila by PT LEN. I hope that the planned purchase of NC212i aircraft from PT. Dirgantara can be realized,” he said.

He also expressed hope that more opportunities would arise for Indonesian SOEs and the private sector to support development in the Philippines.

Border, defense cooperation

Widodo said Indonesia and the Philippines agreed to review border security agreements as well as the revised Border Crossing Agreement and Border Patrol Agreement.

He said Indonesia has also committed to accelerating negotiations on the delimitation of the continental shelf based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.

Widodo said the two countries agreed to encourage strengthening cooperation and safety and security of waters in border areas, saying he highly appreciates the signing of the Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security.

He also welcomed the renewal of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) between Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, which is necessary to secure waters from threats of hostage-taking and kidnapping.

Aside from border cooperation, Widodo said they also discussed ways to strengthen the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the implementation of the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

He also underscored the importance of strengthening Asean centrality and unity.

“Indonesia wishes to ensure that Asean remains an engine of peace, stability, peace and prosperity in the region. Asean must be able to address the challenges ahead and strengthen respect for the Asean Charter,” he said.

The Indonesian leader said the implementation of the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific through concrete and inclusive cooperation will help boost Asean Centrality.

Meanwhile, Widodo also said it was an honor for Indonesia to receive the first overseas visit of Marcos and his delegation.

He also expressed appreciation for the commitment of the Philippines to extend its full support in Indonesia’s chairmanship in Asean in 2023.

Marcos is currently in Indonesia for a three-day state visit from Sept. 4 to 6.

Prior to meeting Widodo, he met with the Filipino community in Jakarta. (PNA)