Brunei Deputy Defense Minister Visits PH

The Deputy Defense Minister of Brunei Darussalam, Yang Mulia Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, called on Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin on 03 September 2010 at the Department of National Defense in Camp Aguinaldo. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is the Defense Minister of Brunei Darussalam but in practice, it is the Deputy Minister of Defense who manages and runs the affairs of the Ministry. Thus, it can be said that Dato’ Paduka Haji Mustappa is the de facto Defense Minister. The said courtesy call was part of the Deputy Defense Minister’s three-day visit to the Philippines from 02 to 04 September 2010.

The two defense leaders reiterated the importance of RP-Brunei Darussalam Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation signed in 2001. They committed to strengthen the defense partnership between the two (2) countries especially in the areas of peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Secretary Gazmin expressed sincere appreciation for Brunei Darussalam’s support to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GRP-MILF) Peace Talks and its involvement in the International Monitoring Team (IMT). The IMT is tasked to monitor the cessation of hostilities between the GRP and the MILF in order to create a peaceful environment in Mindanao and a conducive environment for the ongoing exploratory talks. At present, Brunei Darussalam has fifteen (15) personnel in the IMT, with five (5) additional members joining the ten (10) existing members of the IMT in September 2010. Brunei Darussalam has also been supporting the construction of a Mosque in Cotabato City, which in the words of Min. Mustappa. Moreover, Secretary Gazmin conveyed to the Deputy Defense Minister that the new administration is committed to deliver a peaceful and just resolution to the conflicts in Mindanao, evidenced by President Aquino’s appointment of Atty. Marvic F. Leonen, the Dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, as the government’s chief negotiator in the GRP-MILF peace talks, and Secretary Teresita Q. Deles as the newly-designated Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Further, both parties expressed their views on the forthcoming ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) to be held on 11 and 12 October 2010, respectively, in Vietnam. The two (2) ministers also expressed their confidence in the positive outcome of the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus.