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PH and Brunei Convene Defense Working Committee

Following the state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Brunei, the PH and Brunei convened their Defense Working Group Committe on October 20, 2016. During the meeting, Philippine Defense Undersecretary Ricardo A. David Jr. reaffirmed the PH defense department's commitment in deepening defense relations with Brunei with the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation serving as the framework. The activities undertaken by the PH and Brunei to include among others high level visits, intelligence exchanges, maritime security training are worth pursuing, Undersecretary David stressed. The Brunei side led by Datin Suriyah manifested the same commitment.

The Philippines was assured of Brunei's support when Manila chairs ASEAN in 2017. Rather than suggesting new initiatives which has since flooded the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM ) when it first convened in 2006 and the ADMM-Plus when it first met in 2010, the PH defense department is proposing to review the various initiatives previously proposed and /or now being undertaken with the end view of taking stock and identifying which should be further pursued and which could now be done away. This would help streamline and further rationalize what the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus does, Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop explained during discussions on the ADMM and ADMM-Plus.

Beyond their cooperative activities, the two sides discussed the Mindanao peace process with the PH expressing appreciation for Brunei's sustained contributions to the PH thrust to have a lasting peace in the Philippines' most Southern island. Meanwhile, Brunei committed it will continue to send contingents to the International Meeting, the latest one (9th) having been sent to the PH last September.

Views were exchanged on common security concerns to include the South China Sea/West Philippine and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. And with Brunei's interest to learn more on the trlateral cooperation among the PH, Indonesia and Malaysia, the PH side shared the recent developments on this matter, emphasizing that the cooperative arrangement is anchored on the political commitment of three countries' leaders as well as on the desire of the three partners' defense ministers to curb the growing incidents of kidnapping and piracy in their areas of common concern. 

It was likewise manifested by the PH side that while the contributions of other partners are most welcome, it is the consensus among the three defense ministers to ensure that their trialteral cooperation is effecirvely executed before other partners would be part of it. It was also explained to the Brunei side that the trilateral cooperation strengthens ASEAN and is not in any way meant to undermine ASEAN solidarity and centrality notwithstanding the current state of affairs where only theee members of ASEAN are currently involved.