By Martin Sadongdong
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has raised the issue of the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last month in a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting of top defense officials.
In a statement Sunday, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Lorenzana took the opportunity to talk about the issue in front of other defense ministers in the 13th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) held from July 10 to 12 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The meeting was attended by the delegates of Defense ministries of ASEAN member-states including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam with Thailand as the host country.
In the meeting, Lorenzana thanked Vietnam for rescuing the 22-member crew of the fishing vessel and hailed the adoption of ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction “to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.”
Aside from the ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction, the ministers also adopted key documents in the top-level meet “that will guide and further enhance the ADMM process and engagement.”
A Philippines-initiated template terms of reference (TOR) for hosting activities under the framework of the ADMM-wide Education and Training for Exchanges (AETE) was adopted in the meeting.
Also adopted were the concept papers on the Guidelines for the Assessment of the ADMM Initiatives; the Role of ASEAN Defense Establishments in Supporting Border Management; the Establishment of ASEAN Military Medicine Conference; the Expansion of the ASEAN Direct Communications Infrastructure; and Terms of Reference of the ASEAN Our Eyes (AOR).
Meanwhile, the ministers discussed possible approaches of the ASEAN defense establishments in responding to security implications of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Defense ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to promote sustainable security through strengthening cooperation in addressing “traditional and non-traditional security challenges” that affect the region.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Lorenzana held bilateral meetings with Thailand Defense Minister, Prawit Wongsuwon, and a trilateral meeting with Indonesian and Malaysian Defense Minsters Ryamizard Ryacudu and Mohamad bin Sabu, respectively.
Convened annually, the ADMM serves as the highest platform for cooperation among the defense establishments of ASEAN member-states.
It aims to promote mutual trust and confidence to foster a greater understanding of regional defense and security challenges and contribute to regional peace and stability.