CLOSER COORDINATION among maritime forces between the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia have strengthened security in shared waters, according to Secretary Datu Abul Khayr D. Alonto. “I’m happy for the people to know there is cooperation right now. And when I was in Malaysia couple of days back talking about these issues on our naval cooperation for the security of the area, and they are being well-attended to,” Mr. Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, said in a recent interview with the media. The Philippines and Indonesia also launched this week the 32nd Coordinated Patrol, an exercise to enhance coordination for border security. With stronger security measures in place, said Mr. Alonto, the government is now carrying out preparations for the development of Tawi-Tawi into an economic freeport zone and tourist destination. Tawi-Tawi, the country’s southernmost island province, has been a known stronghold of bandit groups such as the Abu Sayyaf. “We will deliver peace through development, through increased economic activities and through uplifted quality of lives and to forge partnership leading towards generating jobs in Mindanao,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo