DND Calls for Increased Preparations Against Disasters

As disasters are expected to become more devastating, preparations must be commensurate to the anticipated magnitude of calamities. This was stressed by Undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta during the 7th ASEAN-Japan Vice-Ministerial Meeting held in Sapporo, Japan on September 7. Speaking on how to improve disaster response capability, the undersecretary acknowledged the growing role of defense forces in responding to disasters and underscored the necessity of having effective civil-military coordination, adequate disaster response equipment and synchronization of activities of multi-national in times of disasters. This realization is anchored on the Philippines’ own experience with Super Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in 2013. While various initiatives are undertaken at the national level complemented by efforts at the regional and global level, it is crucial that these initiatives are dovetailed accordingly so as to avoid duplication of efforts and unnecessary financial burden on the countries involved.

This ASEAN-Japan Vice-Ministerial Meeting organized by Japan for the 7th time this year also focused on promoting rules and law both at sea and in the air as well as enhancing maritime and aerospace security. The participating vice-ministerial delegations from the ten ASEAN countries including representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat had candid discussions on these issues. Malaysia’s Secretary General for Defense Abdul Rahim delivered the keynote address in behalf of Malaysia’s Defense Minister. Japan, commencing with this year Vice-Ministerial Meeting has invited an ASEAN defense minister to open this forum.

In the bilateral meeting between USEC Azcueta and Japan’s Vice-Minister Hideshi Tokuchi, discussions centered on further deepening the bilateral defense relations with Manila and Tokyo, with both officials acknowledging the increasingly becoming robust defense ties particularly with the signing of a Memorandum on Defense Cooperation between their respective defense ministers earlier in the year. Activities and exchanges between the two defense ministries including their respective defense forces has consistently increased and additional defense agreements such as on defense equipment transfer are currently being explored.