Indonesia has given the Philippines notice that they will discontinue shipping coal to the country until the waters surrounding Sulu are secure.
Just yesterday the Indonesian government announced that seven sailors who were hauling thermal coal were kidnapped by two terrorist organisations who have close ties to Abu Sayyaf.
The Philippines argues on their behalf that no confirmation could be given on the abduction of the seven men.
Philippine authorities have confirmed that Marites Flor was released from Abu Sayyaf strongholds on Friday, a rare move for the terrorist organisation.
Abu Sayyaf is still holding men from Norway, the Netherlands and Japan – adding to the cache is now seven Indonesians.
Piracy in the Sulu Sea is at an all time high, and Indonesia says it is not worth the risk to its citizens to have to sail through the regions of Sulu
The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi said: “The moratorium on coal exports to the Philippines will be extended until there is a guarantee for security from the Philippines government.”
Some fear for the worst with blackouts and brownouts common place throughout the Philippines as Indonesia supplies 70% of the coal used in their thermal coal plants throughout the country.
Indonesian data show that they supplied 15 million tons of thermal coal to the Philippines in 2016 – those numbers equate to $800 million in revenue for the country.
Marsudi also said earlier yesterday that the seven Indonesian men were kidnapped by two different groups. The two groups attacked the tugboat while it was carrying a large coal barge giving the groups easy prey to a slow moving ship.
Just this past year a total of fourteen Indonesians were abducted in two separate assaults on tugboats in the regions of Sulu – those attacks came in March and April – all 14 men were freed, but an unconfirmed report say that the Indonesian government paid for their release.