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Indonesia–Philippines relations

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Indonesia–Philippines relations

Indonesia–Philippines relations are foreign bilateral relations between Indonesia and the Philippines. The two countries are each other's closest allies and both have supported each of their policies in the region such as democracy and the rule of law in the South China Sea. Since diplomatic ties were officially established in 1949, Indonesia and Philippines enjoys cordial bilateral relationship in spirit of kinship. Both countries has established embassies in each capitals, Indonesia has their embassy in Manila and consulate in Davao City, while Philippines has their embassy in Jakarta and consulate in Manado and Surabaya. High rank stately visits have been conducted for years.


Both nations are the founders of ASEAN and the members of Non-Aligned Movement and APEC. Both countries are members of the East ASEAN Growth Triangle together with Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia in the BIMP-EAGA. Both countries are mainly composed of islands.

Ancient era

Indonesia and the Philippines are both archipelagic countries and same ethnic population that belongs to Austronesian ancestry. The historical links between ancient Indonesia and Philippines has been commenced since around the 9th century. The Laguna Copperplate Inscription dated from 900 CE mentioned Javanese Medang Kingdom and the Srivijaya Empire. The writing system used is the Kawi Script, while the language is a variety of Old Malay, and contains numerous loanwords from Sanskrit and a few non-Malay vocabulary elements whose origin is between Old Tagalog and Old Javanese. The 14th century Nagarakretagama manuscript written during the height of Majapahit empire, mentioned several states that is now Philippines; Kalka, Selurong (Manila), and Solot (Sulu), suggested that Majapahit empire influences had reached the Philippine archipelago.

Various Philippine legends also refer to Indonesia as a place of ancestral origin. According to Visayan folklore, during the Chola occupation of Sumatra, a minor prince by the name of Rajamuda Lumaya was sent to establish a vassal state and a base. Known better by the name Sri Lumay, he reached what is today Cebu, establishing the Rajahnate of Cebu and ruling with his sons Sri Alho and Sri Bantug. The Kedatuan of Madja-as, an ancient confederation in what is today Western Visayas and Negros Island Region, was a vassal state of the Srivijaya Empire.

Age of Islam

During the age of Islamic sultanates in Southeast Asia, many Islamic missionaries from present-day Indonesia (as well as Malaysia) migrated to the southern Philippines to preach Islam. In 1390 CE, Rajah Baguinda, also a native of Sumatra helped form a polity in the Sulu Archipelago which would become a preceding state to the Sultanate of Sulu.

The Sultanate of Sulu would cover an area, that includes the modern-day Philippine islands of the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, the Malaysian state of Sabah and the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan.

European occupation

In the 16th century the two realms were divided under European colonial powers; Philippines archipelago was held under Spanish Empire while on the south the Moluccas spice islands (now Eastern parts of Indonesia) was under Portuguese possession, later wrestled by Dutch Empire. European colonials identify both archipelagic realms as East Indies, Spanish East Indies and Dutch East Indies. The natives of the Moluccas of Indonesia referred to the Philippine island of Mindanao as "Maluku Besar" or "Greater Moluccas".

From 1925 to 1926, Indonesian national hero and former PKI member Tan Malaka lived in Manila. There he became a correspondent of the nationalist newspaper El Debate, edited by Francisco Varona. Publication of Malaka's works, such as a second edition of Naar de Republiek Indonesia (December 1925) and Semangat Moeda (Young Spirit; 1926) might have been supported by Varona. There Malaka also met Mariano de los Santos, José Abad Santos, and Crisanto Evangelista.


Since Indonesia's proclamation of independence on 17 August 1945 and the Philippines independence on 4 July 1946, the old cordial relationship between Indonesians and the Filipinos are reestablished. On November 24, 1949, the two countries established diplomatic relations. Since 1949, the Indonesian Government has opened its representative office (Consular Office) in Manila but it was not until the early 1950s that a diplomatic office (embassy) was established headed by an Ambassador. To institutionalize the relation between the two countries, a treaty of friendship was signed on 21 June 1951. This Treaty constituted the basic relationship of both countries, covering several aspects such as maintenance of peace and friendship, settlement of disputes by diplomatic and peaceful means, traffic arrangements for citizens of both countries and activities to promote cooperation in the area of trade, cultural, shipping, etc. which include the political, social-economic and security matters of both countries. In 1967, both countries together with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia founded ASEAN to ensure the peace and stability in the region.

In 2010, an Indonesian photographer by the name of Ilham Anas (known for his physical resemblance to Barack Obama) starred in a Philippine Domperidone commercial, impersonating Obama. In 2012, Indonesian television producers spawned their national franchise of the Philippine game-television show Eat Bulaga!, known as Eat Bulaga! Indonesia. The first Indonesian version adopted many activities and game segments from their original Philippine counterpart, before switching TV stations and adding their own twists.

However, with the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina death-row inmate in Indonesia convicted of drug trafficking, relations between the two nations may take a minor strain. Veloso has however requested her family and the Philippine government not to damage the Indonesia–Philippines relations. In the end, Veloso's execution was further delayed on the day she was scheduled to be executed.

In 2016, in an effort to improve the country's maritime capabilities, the Philippine Navy purchased its newest warship, the BRP Tarlac, from Indonesia. It is based on the Makassar-class ships used by the Indonesian Navy. The ship was built by PT PAL Indonesia, in Surabaya, East Java where it is to be exported from. This would enable the Philippines to rely less on foreign allies for military maritime transport.

In June 2016, economic relations between Indonesia and the Philippines took a minor strain, when the Indonesian officials suspended coal exports to the Philippines. This decision was made after 7 Indonesian sailors carrying boats of coal en route to the Philippines were kidnapped by Filipino militants in the Sulu Sea. It is unknown of whether the militants were part of the Abu Sayyaf. Indonesian minister for foreign affairs Retno Marsudi stated that the moratorium would last until the Philippine government could provide confident security to Indonesian nationals. Indonesia currently is the Philippines' biggest supplier of coal, approximately 70%.

The hostage situation further worsens the relations between the two nations. Anger and outrage over the claimed lack of action from the Philippine government over the captured sailors has flared in Indonesia. Angry demonstrators protested in front of the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta carrying signs reading anti-Philippine slurs.


Bilateral trade has trended positively in recent years. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, that figure has gone from $1.12 billion in 2003 to $2.9 billion in 2009 and $3.89 billion in 2010. Indonesia is currently the Philippines' biggest supplier of coal, exporting about 70% of the Philippines' coal imports. Although as of June 2016, Indonesian coal exports to the Philippines are currently on a moratorium due to the growing concern of piracy in the Sulu Sea.


As a result of their close history, Indonesia and the Philippines also display similar cultural characteristics, though less than of Malaysia. The people of both nations share some similar lifestyles, such as the tradition with eating with the hands and eating on banana leaves. Both countries also share similar dishes, such as bakpia, or commonly known as "hopia" in the Philippines, a Chinese-influenced pastry as well as the lumpia spring-roll.

The kris, a battle dagger originating from Indonesia is also a part of Filipino culture, though it is much more confined to the southern Philippines and the Muslim areas (as Philippines is a majority-Catholic country). Additionally, dances and festivals can be found throughout Mindanao that originate from influences of the Majapahit Empire.

Tourism and transportation

During the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2012 in Manado, North Sulawesi, the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines initiated their very first bilateral tourism cooperation. This initiative will improve connectivity between the two countries by operating cruise ships and the renewal of direct flights between Davao in the Philippines to Manado. The two countries are also actively supporting the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity, which will enhance greater mobility within the region. The Philippines in particular is eager to develop the ASEAN Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) Network and Short Sea Shipping.

Transborder terrorism and separatism

Indonesia and the Philippines are working hand-in-hand to explore ways of cooperation to combat terrorism and other forms of transnational crimes threatening their borders and more broadly within Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s president has expressed his country’s readiness to assist the Philippine government in peace talks with Islamist separatist groups active in its borders. And the Philippines helped Indonesia in its own negotiations with rebels, serving as a monitor during the Aceh Peace Process in 2005.

The Indonesian-Philippines naval border areas in Sulawesi Sea near Sulu archipelago and Mindanao waters are known as the piracy hotspots as well as terrorist's corridor. The Islamist militant operating in Poso, Central Sulawesi, has established relations with their Islamist terrorist counterparts in Sulu and Mindanao areas in Southern Philippines. Arms supply for Poso Islamist guerillas are suspected has been supplied by arm dealer operating in the Philippines blackmarket. In 26 March 2016, 10 Indonesian sailors were held hostage by Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf operating in Sulu archipelago in southern Philippines. The Indonesian vessels were freighting coal from South Borneo heading for Batangas port was hijacked near Sulu waters. The Philippines and Indonesian authority has been working together to crack down this hostage crisis. In 2 May 2016 10 of Indonesian sailor hostages were released by their captors.

Boundary agreement

Indonesia and Philippines share maritime borders mainly on Sulawesi Sea. In the past both countries involved in territorial disputes over Miangas island (Island of Palmas Case). It was fought between the Netherlands and the United States and won by Netherlands East Indies in 1932. Today there is no territorial disputes between Indonesia and Philippines. In March 2011, leaders from both countries agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to boost cooperation in security, defense, boundary delimitation, protection of migrant workers, education and sports. Indonesia is keeping its support for the Philippine proposal to delineate and segregate the disputed parts of the South China Sea from the undisputed areas in drafting the Code of Conduct that will bind countries with territorial claims in the Spratlys group of islands.

On May 23, 2014, the Philippines and Indonesia signed a historic agreement that drew a boundary between the two countries. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his Indonesian counterpart, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, inked the deal in Manila with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as witnesses. The EEZ is an area 200 nautical miles from a coastal state's baselines, or edges, within which the state has the sovereign rights to explore and exploit, and conserve and manage natural resources, among others. “The conclusion of the negotiations attests to the friendship, patience, goodwill, and commitment of the governments of the Philippines and Indonesia to peacefully address maritime issues,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia, who led the Philippine team in negotiations.

Disaster reliefs

Both Indonesia and Philippines archipelago are prone to natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and storms (typhoons, tornadoes, etc.). In spirits of solidarity and humanity both country often help each other in times of need. The Indonesian government on Monday December 10, 2012 came to the aid of thousands of typhoon “Pablo” (Bopha) victims in the Visayas and Mindanao, donating $1 million and four tons of relief items through the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Besides the financial aid, the Indonesian government also gave 1,000 military blankets, 3,000 packs of ready-to-eat meals and 50 boxes of instant noodles.

In November 2013, Indonesian Government sent humanitarian aid of goods and logistics worth 7006100000000000000♠$1 million to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in Central Philippines as part of ASEAN solidarity. Indonesian Red Cross also sent 688,862 tonnes emergency supplies. Three Indonesian Air Force Hercules aircraft deployed with supplies to affected areas. Logistical aid including aircraft, food, generators and medicine. The Indonesian Red Cross deployed KM Emir cargo ship loaded with emergency supplies and also 30 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers.


Indonesia–Philippines relations Wikipedia