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ASEAN Defense Ministers Go on a Retreat

Violent extremism and terrorism, climate change and disasters, maritime security and cyber security are today’s most pressing challenges for the Philippines, Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana shared to his fellow ASEAN defense ministers when they went on a retreat in Lao PDR last November 16. While the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus have proven to be effective mechanisms for promoting practical cooperation in meeting regional security challenges, defense cooperation in ASEAN and with the association’s eight dialogue partners need to be further deepened. The centrality of ASEAN in regional security efforts must be always preserved and observed, Secretary Lorenzana argued.

Lao PDR’s defense minister then handed over to Secretary Lorenzana the ADMM Chairmanship. Confident of the other members’ support when the DND chairs the ADMM next year, Secretary Lorenzana stressed that ASEAN’s defense sector would be able to contribute in moving forward the efforts and advocacy to contribute to regional peace and stability.

Following the ADMM Retreat, the ASEAN defense ministers had an informal meeting with the Japanese defense minister Tomomi Inada. In her intervention, the Japanese Defense Minster  brought forth Japan’s vision for a deepened ASEAN-Japan defense cooperation through defense exchanges and transfer of defense equipment to ASEAN countries. The informal meeting with Japan is the second, the first one held in Myanmar in 2014.

Meanwhile, the defense ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia had another trilateral meeting, the fifth in one year’s time since the first trilateral meeting was held at the sidelines of the ADMM in Ventianne last May. In this trilateral meeting, the three defense ministers agreed that their trilateral defense cooperation must sooner not later be operationalized. They tasked the trilateral joint working group to finalize the relevant agreements specially the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on maritime patrol to ensure that incidents of piracy and kidnapping and other transnational crimes in the areas of common concern are addressed in a cooperative and collaborative manner.