MANILA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- The joint air patrols of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia will boost operations to quell the threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia, Philippine officials said on Saturday.
"The fight against terrorism in the region continues to get a boost," said Ernesto Abella, the spokesman of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Abella said the coordinated joint air patrols among the three Southeast Asian countries are designed "to better counter the movement of terrorist groups and to strengthen the security of our three nations and that of the region."
"By sharing information and exchanging best practices, we hope to improve the interoperability of our forces and help better secure areas of common maritime interest," Abella said.
On Thursday, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein launched the trilateral air patrol in Subang Air Base in Malaysia.
Southeast Asia, a region of more to more than 600 million people and around 15 percent of the world's Muslim population, has faced the threat of terrorism for decades. The rise of the Islamic State (IS) and the extremists' desire to establish a caliphate in the region poses new challenges for the region.
Lorenzana said they "all expressed their commitment to continue working together, especially on countering the movement of violent extremists and terrorists across the porous borders of the three countries."
The three countries in June also inaugurated the trilateral maritime patrol and vowed "to work together to jointly develop and implement counter-terrorism measures and strategies" to ensure that the IS militants will not gain the foothold in the region.
The joint air patrol is the second component of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) to secure the maritime areas of common concerns, according to Lorenzana.
The launching of the trilateral air patrol completes the military cooperation among the three countries, he said.
Under the trilateral air patrol agreement, he said the air forces of the three countries will take turns in leading the joint air patrol operations.
"All three air forces have already made the commitments on the deployment schedule of air assets. The rotational naval and air patrols, as well as information sharing and communications, will be supported by the Joint Maritime Coordinating Centers in Tarakan, Indonesia; in Tawau, Malaysia; and in Bongao in the Philippines," Lorenzana said.
The three defense ministers agreed that the joint maritime and air patrol operations will be permanent and continue for as long as needed, Lorenzana said.
Moreover, Lorenzana said the three countries are open to the other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).