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2017 Shangri-la Dialogue

The imperative to deal with security challenges serves as the common ground for regional security cooperation. However, divergence of perceptions regarding certain security issues serves as a constraint. This was the highlight of the remarks of Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana at the 16th Asia Security Summit, popularly known as the Shangri-la Dialogue. The remarks were delivered by Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David Jr., in behalf of the Secretary of National Defense.

Among the security challenges that drive states to cooperate are terrorism and violent extremism, cyber security and natural and man made disasters. There is general consensus among states that these challenges transcend national borders, hence dealing with them necessitates transnational action.

Cooperation on maritime security issues, however, is more problematic given the existing territorial disputes in maritime boundaries and differing views on what constitutes rules-based order. While the Philippines joins the rest of the international community in calling for a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the issue remains a key security challenge given North Korea’s insistence that it needs nuclear weapons for its security.

Undersecretary David stressed that for the Philippines, defense cooperation is a primary thrust. The country’s alliance with the US remains to be a cornerstone of Philippine defense policy while it revitalizes defense ties with China and commences defense cooperation with the Russian Federation. The undersecretary further stressed that the Philippines sees as useful bilateral platforms of engagement, trilateral cooperative mechanisms and multilateral avenues of cooperation.

At the sidelines of the Shangri-la Dialogue, USEC David had bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Cara Abercrontbie and Singapore’s Permanent Secretary Chan Yeng Kit. USEC David personally handed over Secretary Lorenzana's invitation for the two ministers to attend the ADMM-Plus meeting in October in Manila. Likewise attended by USEC David was an informal meeting between Secretary Mattis and the heads of delegations from the ASEAN countries.

Meanwhile, Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop had bilateral meetings with  Major General Derek Joyce, Director-General, International Security Policy of Canada’s Department of National Defense and Dr. Amy Searight, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and now Senior Adviser and Director, Southeast Asia Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Asec Quilop and General Joyce discussed the future direction of defense cooperation within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) while the meeting with Dr. Searight centered on the soon-to-be launched PH-Indonesia-Malaysia Trilateral Maritime Patrols.