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Seoul Defense Dialogue Held for the 5th Time

Differences in beliefs is not an excuse to perpetuate inhumanity. Referring to the atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines, this was stressed by Undersecretary of Defense Ricardo David Jr. during his remarks in a panel on violent extremism and terrorism at the Seoul Defense Dialogue last September 8. 

Usec David impressed upon the participants of the dialogue that the Philippine Government is serious in the quest to get rid of the Abu Sayyaf because their crimes against humanity is unacceptable and have hindered peace and development in the Philippine Mindanao region.

He gave the assurance that the government's declaration of a state of national emergency following the bombing in Davao City last September 2 which killed14 people and injured less than a hundred would not curtail the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Filipino citizens. It is not a declaration of martial law.

But beyond utilizing the military and police arms of the government to
counter terrorism and violent extremism, USEC David highlighted the government's whole of nation spproach to this security challenge, reviewing the government's development efforts and arguing for the need to involve civil society and grassroots communities in the fight against terror groups.

He likewise placed premium on the value of inter-state cooperation, citing the current trilateral maritime security cooperation among the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to curb armed piracy at sea and kidnapping in the three countries' maritime areas of common concern. Multilateral cooperation through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting particularly through its working group on counter terrorism remains useful, USEC David argued.

Porous borders and the transnational character of the activities of terror groups make regional cooperation an imperative. And considering that terrorism and extremism have started to use the cyberspace for spreading their inhuman beliefs, discussions and effort to promote cyber security should be dovetailed with a country's cyber security programs.

Now in its 5th year, the SDD, notwithstanding its focus on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, has evolved to be an institutionalized platform for security dialogue and defense cooperation. Officials and security analysts regularly attend the dialogue. Included in the Philippine delegation are Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop, Mr. Nebuchadnezzar Alejandrino, Ms. Welfe Vera, and Ms. Rachelle Villaluna.