ADMM Convenes in Malaysia

A meaningful Code of Conduct (COC) hopefully would be agreed upon sooner than later. This was stressed by Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin during the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) held last March 16 in Langkawi, Malaysia. Emphasizing that the rule of law should and must prevail amidst the conflicting claims in the area, a principle that underpins the Philippines seeking arbitration, Secretary Gazmin called on fellow defense ministers to continue exploring the prospects of having a set of shared protocols of interaction in the South China Sea while a COC is being worked out. He also acknowledged the positive effect of a direct communication link among defense ministers in helping manage tensions when they arise.

And recognizing the growing challenge caused by violent extremism and radicalism, Secretary Gazmin stressed the need for the ASEAN defense sector to work together and expressed the Philippines’ support for various initiatives undertaken by the ADMM-Plus Experts Working Group on Counter Terrorism.

The meeting in Langkawi chaired by Malaysia is the 9th time that defense ministers of ASEAN convened since the ADMM was launched in 2006 also in Malaysia. During their 2015 meeting, the ASEAN defense ministers approved the establishment of an ASEAN Militaries Ready Group for humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as the establishment of an ASEAN Center of Military Medicine. The ministers likewise issued a set of guidelines on how to respond to request from ADMM’s non-ASEAN members (called Plus countries) for informal meetings with the ADMM. There are currently eight Plus countries and the ADMM-Plus is convened every two years. At the sidelines of the ADMM or the ADMM retreat, informal meetings have been held between the ADMM and the US, China and Japan, with the other Plus countries expected to request for similar meetings.

Secretary Gazmin's delegation included Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop, Senior Military Assistant Col Danilo Isleta, and Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache to Malaysia Col Delfin Bacon. Major Claro Tamayo and Ms. Faysah Abdullah provided technical support during the meeting.