ARF Security Policy Conference

Enhancing maritime security in Asia’s waterways stood out in the discussions during the ARF ‘s Security Policy Conference (ASPC) held in Surabaya, Indonesia on 8 July 2011. The Philippines and Vietnam shared with the other participants recent incidents in the area which are causing alarm and expressed hope that the a Code of Conduct would soon be agreed upon among the parties of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The Philippines put forth a framework for transforming the area into a zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation.

The other participants noted that with the geopolitical significance of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),  its being an important Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs), and the potential petroleum found there including the vast marine resources, maintaining peace and stability is a regional concern.  Also included in the agenda of the APSC are the issues of avoiding duplication of efforts between the ARF and the ADMM-Plus as well as building cooperation in food and energy security.

A day prior to the APSC, the ARF Defense Officials Dialogue (DOD) was held were the defense officials examined the implications to the region of the turmoils in North Africa and the Middle, the various challenges in combating piracy in Somalia/Gulf of Aden and in addressing terrorism.

Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino of the Department of National Defense headed the delegation from the DND in the above meetings.