Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, left, speaks to Samiun Maneu, middle and Maharudin Lunani who were rescued for their 90-day of hostage in Philippines at her office in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

Two Indonesian Hostages Freed From Islamic Militants in Southern Philippines

BY :DIANA MARISKA

DECEMBER 26, 2019

Jakarta. Two Indonesian hostages who were rescued after being held for 90 days by Islamic militants in the Southern Philippines have arrived back in Indonesia.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi hosted Samiun Maneu and Maharudin Lunani and their families in her office in Jakarta on Thursday.

Both the Indonesian and Philippine governments worked relentlessly to secure the release of the two Indonesians, Retno said.

"It was all thanks to the collaboration between our two countries," Retno said.

The bulk of the negotiation with the militants involved Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs and its State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command, a military unit tasked with combating terrorism and insurgency.

Retno also credited high-level diplomatic talks between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte.

The two met at the Asean-South Korea Summit in Busan last month, during which Jokowi requested Duterte's assistance to rescue the hostages.

Three Indonesian fishermen were kidnapped in Lahat Batu, Sabah, Malaysia, in September by a group of gunmen with suspected links to militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Samiun (27), Maharudin (48) and Muhammad Farhan (24) from Baubau in Southeast Sulawesi had been working onboard a Malaysian fishing boat when they were kidnapped.

Samiun and Maharudin were rescued in a daring operation on Sunday. Maharudin's son Farhan remains with the militant group. 

Retno said she is continuing to work in close cooperation with the Philippine authorities to try to secure Farhan's release as soon as possible.

Gunfight during the rescue operation for the two Indonesians on Sunday left one Philippine soldier dead.

Trilateral Cooperation

Retno said Indonesia wanted more preventive actions to avoid a similar incident in the future.

She said Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto will soon be meeting with his Philippine counterpart to discuss the matter. 

"We have already formed a trilateral cooperation with the Philippines and Malaysia to improve security in the Sulu Sea [in Southern Philippines]. But we need to intensify the cooperation as a pre-emptive measure," Retno said.

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