Of course, this is only the beginning of the new trilateral cooperation mechanism and further details will probably be announced at the next meetings, including the next ones to be held in Malaysia. There are also real challenges that influence how quickly cooperation can really take shape, regardless of what ministers want. Nevertheless, the meeting was further evidence of the importance that the three countries attach to this cooperation, despite the remaining obstacles. This should not distract attention from the fact that, despite limited success, the effectiveness of the trilateral mechanism should be qualified by broader considerations. These include the fact that previous cases of cross-border crime reduction in the context of Southeast Asia, including the Strait of Malacca, have sometimes proved reversible. Data on incident reductions observed in the case of Sulu Lake should also be analyzed with the right reserves, including the small sample size and the fact that measurements of these known incidents represent only a portion of the wider universe of cases likely to occur. More than a year ago, in May 2016, the three states agreed on joint patrols and information exchanges, following a series of kidnappings for ransom of foreigners by the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf, who has a base on the southernmost islands of the Philippines, had beheaded some victims when the ransoms were not paid. (Id.; Ryan Healy, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia agree on anti-Piracy Patrols, Center for Security Policy Website (May 6, 2016).) The former Philippine defence minister, Voltaire Gazmin said at the time that he and Indonesia`s defence minister had agreed on 25 June 2016 to divest a cross-border agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia as the basis for the agreement, as the agreement “allows the Indonesian and Philippine security forces to conduct prosecution operations against bandits within the maritime zones of the other.” stressing that all new operations “should be coordinated between the countries concerned.” (Id.; Revised agreement on border crossings between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Indonesia (March 11, 1975). While foreign troops could not operate inside the country, Gazmin said that, in exceptional circumstances, foreign troops “provided they are not armed – can work with Philippine troops to act as interpreters or provide the necessary information.” (Laude – Sy, supra.) Last week, Indonesia`s defence ministers, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines said they planned to hold a joint ground patrol exercise next month.