Secretary Lorenzana stressed that federalism is as a key step to address the long-standing conflict in Mindanao but acknowledged the challenges the government faces in pushing for this agenda. Asked about exercises with the US, Secretary Lorenzana shared that Balikatan Exercise will be sustained. For the Prime Minister, US obligations as a treaty partner of the Philippines will have to be exacted by Manila.
Earlier in the day, in the bilateral meeting between Secretary Lorenzana and Minister Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s defense leader stressed that the Philippines is in strategic position given the developments around the globe. With its chairmanship of ASEAN and geographic location, the Philippines plays a strategic role in engaging both the US and China. Minister Ng commended the Philippines for initiating the establishment of a cyber working group under the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus and offered support in the activities of the working group. Prior to meeting Minister Ng, Secretary Lorenzana visited Singapore’s Cyber Security Training Center.
The two ministers shared the perspective that rather than focusing on issues that are divisive, ASEAN should instead zero-in on issues that allow countries to collaborate like dealing with disasters. Both ministers observed the next day Exercise Coordinated Response (Ex-Coor) 2017 at the Regional Humanitarian Coordinating Center in Singapore. Conducted by Singapore, Philippine and US defense forces with observers from international humanitarian-related agencies, the table top exercise is meant to enhance information sharing and coordination during disasters through a multinational coordination center.
2017 Updates >