PH and Vietnam Convene Defense Cooperation Working Group

The Philippines and Vietnam convened their Joint Defense Cooperation Working Group on 27 February 2013. Hosted by the Philippines, the working enabled the two sides to provide each other with updates on regional security issues to include the West Philippine Sea/East Sea issue. The Philippines emphasized the importance it accords to the peaceful approach to the issue and stressed that it is principle that underpins the country’s decision to bring the matter to the International Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). 

The meeting also enabled the two sides to consult with one another on matters pertaining to multilateral security cooperation. Vietnam conveyed its proposal to have an Experts Working Group on Humanitarian Mine Action established within the ambit of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus. EWGs of the ADMM-Plus are put up to promote practical cooperation among the 18 members of the body on certain issues considered as priority by the group. 

More importantly, the meeting served as a mechanism for reviewing bilateral defense cooperation leading to a discussion of specific proposals on how to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries. With a Memorandum of Agreement on Defense Cooperation signed in 2010, both sides identified mechanisms to substantiate the agreement. Among such mechanisms are defense and military officials exchanges, personnel exchanges among the military services, information sharing to include intelligence exchanges and analyst-to-analyst exchanges and practical cooperative activities in the West Philippine Sea/East that are meant to enhance confidence among their respective personnel in the area. 

ASEC Raymund Jose Quilop led the Philippine delegation and Major General Vu Chien Than, Director of the Foreign Relations Department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense led the Vietnamese delegation.