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DND's Proposed Cybersecurity Group Gets Support

An Experts Working Group (EWG) on Cybersecurity is needed and timely. The proposed EWG of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus is meant to provide a platform for exchanging expertise and knowledge as well as promote practical cooperation on addressing cyber security challenges. This was articulated by the Philippine delegation headed by Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop, during the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM) Working Group (WG) meeting held in Laung Prabang, Laos last February 20-21. The idea of having a dedicated group on cybersecurity under the ADMM-Plus was brought forth by Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin during the ADMM Retreat in Kuala Lumpur in November last year, prompting the Philippines to circulate a concept paper on the matter, which became the basis of discussion during the working group meeting.

With the unanimous support by the other nine members of ASEAN attending the meeting, the proposal was subsequently presented during the ADSOM-Plus working group meeting on February 23, with the eight dialogue partners of ADMM in attendance. The meeting likewise expressed support for the proposal to establish the said EWG. If eventually approved by the ADSOM and ADSOM-Plus in April, the ADMM is expected to welcome the standing up of the said EWG when the ASEAN defense ministers meet in May.

The ADSOM and ADSOM-Plus working group meetings also afforded the Philippine delegation with an opportunity to have bilateral meetings with 15 out of the 18 members of the ADMM-Plus where the EWG on cybersecurity was discussed including the state and way ahead for the Philippines' bilateral defense ties with each of the said countries.

The ADSOM WG is the preparatory meeting for the meeting of ASEAN Defense Senior Officials in April and eventually the ASSEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in May. Proposals to be approved by the ADMM are first initially discussed and processed at the working group level. Among the other initiatives taken up during the ADSOM working group include the ASEAN Militaries Ready Group, ASEAN Center for Military Medicine, ASEAN Peacekeeping Operations Force as well as various proposals by the ADMM's partners for informal meetings with the ADMM, with the US and Russia inviting the ADMM for meetings in Hawaii and Moscow, respectively and China and Japan proposing to informally meet the ADMM at the sidelines of the ADMM in May and the ADMM Retreat in the later part of the year.