Indonesia coal exports return 

Indonesia is the Philippines’ main supplier of coal. Source: Flickr


Indonesia plans to resume coal exports to the Philippines after they were cancelled amid fears of piracy.

Militants based in the southern Philippines have taken several Indonesian sailors hostage this year.

Only vessels with a capacity in excess of 500 tonnes would be allowed to resume deliveries, Jakarta said.

“For safety and security reasons … all ships must sail in the recommended corridors and avoid conflict areas or waters [near] the southern Philippines and east Malaysia,” Transport Ministry spokesman Tonny Budiono said.

His statement said the coal ban had been “damaging Indonesian interests”.

Around 70 per cent of the Philippines’ coal comes from Indonesia.

Indonesian sailors were seized earlier this year by suspected members of Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu Sea.

Many of the Indonesians have been released amid allegations that a hostage had been paid but other foreigners are still being held for ransom.

In June, Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Canadian hostage.

Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to begin joint naval patrols in the Sulu Sea.

Brigadier General Arnel dela Vega, the Philippine army’s Sulu commander, said two Abu Sayyaf militants had been killed near the remote town of Indanan.

He said the 11th Scout Ranger Company responded to a tipoff by villagers and engaged about eight militants in the Muslim-majority area.

Six Abu Sayyaf militants were able to escape, said the brigadier.

An M16 assault rifle with a grenade launcher and homemade bomb were apparently seized.

The military says 37 members of Abu Sayyaf had been killed since an offensive was launched in July.

The military says the group has splintered into small bands to avoid the offensive, planting explosives across region.

Dela Vega said the operation would continue.

Abu Sayyaf is among two militant groups in the southern Philippines who have pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State.

Manila estimated last week that the group made 353 million pesos (US$7.3 million) from kidnappings in the first six months of 2016.

During a visit to southern Cotabato at the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Mindanao’s militants to stop fighting the government so that development projects could commence.

“Things will improve and you will have your own share of development money,” Duterte said.