REPATRIATED. Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, welcomes on Monday (May 8, 2023) the six Filipino fisherfolk who were sent home from Indonesia. Three of the repatriates are from Sultan Kudarat province and the others from General Santos City. (Photo courtesy of Eastmincom)

DAVAO CITY – Philippines and Indonesia further strengthened their cooperation in protecting their borders with the conduct of the Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) at Manado City, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

In a statement Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-Eastmincom) commander, said the CORPAT held May 3 to 7 was a bilateral naval patrol carried out along the border areas of the two countries.

The exercises aim to secure the territorial waters of both countries from the enemies' utilization of the border, piracy, smuggling activities, illegal fishing, and other threats that may transpire at sea.

Almerol said the operation is held four times a year covering the harbor and sea phases.

The harbor phase activities began with courtesy calls on Philippine Consulate General Angelica Escalona and Rear Admiral Maman Firmansyah, commander of the Second Fleet Command of the Indonesian Navy and Indonesia Border Committee chair on May 3.

The courtesy calls were followed by joint patrols of the BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37) and aircraft NV-393 of the Philippine Navy and Kri Escolar-871 of the Indonesian Navy along the borders for the sea phase.

"The entire AFP commits to strengthen our partnership in all joint endeavors and exert our best efforts to safeguard the maritime borders and best interest of our respective countries," Almerol said.

Through the joint efforts, they also facilitated the repatriation of six Filipino fisherfolk from Indonesia, carried by BRP Ricarte on May 5.

Three of the repatriates are from Sultan Kudarat province while the other three are from General Santos City.

Eastmincom data revealed that a total of 58 Filipinos -- 49 repatriated and nine rescued from Indonesian waters – have been sent home since June last year. (PNA)