DND Takes Part in Shangri-la Dialogue's Sherpa Meeting

Political will among concerned states not to let tensions get out of control is necessary. Such political will should be present at all levels of government (national and provincial or local) and all levels of command for armed forces (general headquarters and local commands). This was emphasized by Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop during the second Fullerton Forum held in Singapore last January 13-14, 2014.

Speaking during the session on managing maritime tensions, Asec Quilop likewise identified practical measures such as (1) keeping lines of communication open, (2) sustaining engagement among parties involved, (3) having a shared protocols of interaction even while a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is being negotiated, (4) avoiding maneuvers that are dangerous, (5) refraining from utilizing the media from further inflaming the public’s “nationalistic”, and (6) exercising caution in issuing policy pronouncements, taking into consideration the timing as these could unnecessarily worsen an already tensed situation.

Convened for the second time since it was first held in 2013, the Fullerton Forum is meant to provide defense officials an opportunity to discuss relevant security issues prior to the Shangri-la Dialogue, which since 2002 has provided defense ministers and chief of defense forces a platform for engaging in dialogue.

With discussions taking off through an exchange of perspectives regarding what transpired in the regional security environment in 2013 and what could be expected in 2014, the senior officials then examined the core interests of major powers in the region as well as the security concerns of medium and small powers. After putting forth ways to manage maritime tensions, the participants then examined various emerging modes of security collaboration, with an acknowledgement that perhaps, instead of zeroing on what is emerging, it would be more pragmatic to focus on how current modes of collaboration are evolving.