Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting chief of the Philippine Navy’s Naval Public Affairs Office, said the ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting is an annual engagement of navy chiefs as a dialogue for maritime security concerns within ASEAN.
STAR/File
Asean Navy chiefs tackle maritime security
Michael Punongbayan, Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Navy chiefs and other ranking navy officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reaffirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation for sustainable maritime security in the region during a recent meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting chief of the Philippine Navy’s Naval Public Affairs Office, said the ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM) is an annual engagement of navy chiefs as a dialogue for maritime security concerns within ASEAN. 

Roxas said the Philippine Navy along with the regional navies from ASEAN member-countries attended the 13th iteration of ANCM hosted by the Royal Cambodian Navy from Nov. 25 to 28.

She added that the exchanges of the ASEAN navy chiefs emphasized the centrality of ASEAN in its quest for a more collaborative, responsive and integrated way to engage either through bilateral or multilateral and regional or global platforms.

Admiral Tea Vinh, Deputy Commander in Chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Commander of Royal Cambodian Navy and Secretary General of National Committee for Maritime Security, chaired the meeting. 

The Commander of the Philippine Navy’s Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command, Rear Admiral Loumer Bernabe, led the Philippine Navy delegation, on behalf of Flag Officer In Command Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad.

Bernabe expressed the Philippine Navy’s viewpoint which advocates an ASEAN-centered “shared ocean governance” that entails multi-sectoral cooperation, relies on common policy instruments and makes use of regional mechanisms that shall foster greater collaboration among ASEAN navies.”

“This may be achieved through the development of a comprehensive maritime domain awareness in Southeast Asia by networking various maritime coordinating centers and the operationalization of ASEAN Maritime Task Force that shall oversee the collective efforts of the security dimension of ocean governance,” he stressed.  

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and its counterpart in Indonesia, the Humas Bakalma RI (BAKAMLA), will sign anew the Implementing Arrangement (IA) next year on the memorandum on maritime security cooperation in Bali, Indonesia, to improve maritime communications between the neighboring countries.

In a statement, PCG commandant Vice Adm. Joel Garcia said the memorandum’s IA would boost the mutual interests of the Philippines and Indonesia in enforcing maritime laws toward a safe, secure and clean marine environment.

In the IA it was agreed that the Philippines and Indonesia would conduct regular exchange of information through the availability of multi-level hotlines of communication, implementation of communication protocol between patrol units and the implementation of a common identification system to monitor the movement of vessels along Philippine and Indonesian waters.

The agreement also includes the implementation of the Security, Safety and Environmental Numbering System designated to Philippine vessels and water craft that are not covered by the International Maritime Organization numbering system and the utilization of maritime information report as the standard reporting format to transmit information on maritime incidents.

The two countries also expressed their commitment to conduct regular coordinated patrols, port visits, joint maritime exercises, training activities, capacity building efforts, sharing of best practices, regular consultations and the conduct of annual joint working group on maritime security. 

“We want to establish a model on maritime security to address pressing challenges in the Sulu-Celebes Sea, particularly kidnap for ransom and other maritime terrorism activities. This is a political and economic statement to the world that Sulu-Celebes Sea is open, free, safe and secure for navigations,” Vice Admiral Joel Garcia said. 

BAKAMLA Commodore Samuel Kowaas said the strong and long-standing relations between the Philippines and Indonesia was further developed when the Border Crossing Agreement on maritime security that was signed in 1975. 

The MOU on maritime security cooperation between the Philippines and Indonesia was initially signed last June 11 in Manila.

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