Authorities allay fear about Palawan backdoor

A Royal Malaysia Police maritime boat seen at Puerto Princesa Bay. The crew is participating in the 2nd Bilateral Meeting to fight transnational crimes in the borders between the Philippines and Malaysia.

The maritime police forces of Malaysia and the Philippines gave assurance this week the Buliluyan Port in Bataraza town for the roll-on, roll-off (RORO) trade link will not be vulnerable as a transshipment point for smuggled goods, illegal drugs, and human trafficking.

Commissioner of Police Dato’ Zulkifli Bin Abdullah, director of Internal Security and Public Order Department of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) said this is because they are closely monitoring and checking the development of the trade link according to security standards of their country.

“As we monitor [all checkpoints], we are also developing a few new initiatives to enhance security from Palawan areas to Kudat,” Zulkifli said at a press conference for the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) of the two maritime police forces.

He added it is best to have a vessel tracking system in all points of the RORO ferry link to avoid illegal activities, particularly smuggling and trafficking of both humans and cargoes.

Chief Superintendent Rodelio Jocson, director of the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG), supported Zulkifli’s statement and assured there will be no illegal activity that will happen when the connectivity starts.

“For the assurance of all, we can assure you that there will be no illegal activity and no connivance among the crew and owner of the ship if they pass in our border control point,” Jocson said.

He added that it is a border control issue that all security units and departments must be involved in, not only the maritime police.

Jocson further said that since 2017 to date, no transnational crime was recorded in the border between Palawan province in the Philippines and Malaysia.

He explained the close connection with Malaysian maritime police and military counterparts helped prevent this, particularly in the combat operation level.

To ensure this is sustained, he said the bilateral meeting this month with Zulkifli’s delegation will discuss a proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) to fight transnational crimes.

The terms and condition of the agreement will focus on fighting vessel hijacking, kidnapping, trafficking, terrorism, human smuggling, arms smuggling, illegal drugs, and marine environment protection.

It has not been signed since the agreement needs thorough discussion by representatives of both countries, but he assured everything will be transparent and for the good of all security interests.

“Actually, these will be tackled within the day. It has not yet been signed because we’re still reviewing the terms and condition. Maybe we will finish this within the day, if not maybe we will do that in the next bilateral meeting,” he said in a media conference.

Zulkifli added the nominated pact will contain solutions to potential transnational crimes that all participants can profit from.

“The concern is the prevention of transnational crimes because they can happen from here to another [country]. In order to protect tourists and oher people who come over to the Philippines and Malaysia, we must have win-win solutions so they will have safe environments,” he said.

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