The Philippine militants, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), have emerged as the predominant actors operating within the Sulu-Celebes Sea, successfully kidnapping more than 50 sailors and generating roughly U.S. $7.3 million dollars in hostage revenue in the past year alone. In response, the littoral states of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have revitalised trilateral diplomatic efforts to strengthen a regional comprehensive framework to counter maritime piracy and kidnapping, however, there remains a failure to address many of the fundamental challenges that has so far resulted in a failure to shift the tides of the reality on the ground.
The following report was prepared by Reginald Ramos, Research and Program Assistant at the Perth USAsia Centre.
- The kidnappings of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors between March and July 2016 resulted in resurgence in diplomatic efforts between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia towards countering regional maritime piracy and kidnapping.
- The Sulu-Celebes Sea, commonly known as the tri-border area, has an estimated U.S. $40 billion dollars’ worth of cargo flowing every year and maritime piracy and kidnapping threatens regional trade and stability.
- The Abu Sayyaf Group has emerged as the dominant maritime piracy and kidnapping actors operating in the tri-border area and has successfully generated roughly $7.3 million dollars in hostage revenue in the past year alone.
- Despite the revitalised diplomatic efforts between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, there remains many fundamental challenges that need to be addressed before shifting the tides of the reality on the ground.