Philippines urges tighter Asean border control

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THE head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to fortify their border security to curb transnational crime and prevent the entry of terrorists.

In a statement issued before next week’s Asean Summit in the country, Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero stressed the need to enhance regional border security through coordinated border patrols.

Guerrero expressed hope that the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia will tighten security through the Trilateral Cooperation Arrangement signed by the three countries in June this year. The agreement aims to halt crimes, including kidnapping, trafficking and the transit of terrorists in the Sulu Sea.

He said he is eyeing more coordinated patrols with Asean countries.

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“We will also increase the frequency of our coordinated patrols with our Asean counterparts in order to prevent the use of our common maritime borders for illegal activities,” Guerrero said in a statement.

In October, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and former AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año, together with their counterparts, launched a Trilateral Air Patrol program that aims to curb terrorism in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The program will also protect the maritime areas of the three countries and keep the Southeast Asian region safe from any threat. The project may cost the three countries $40 billion a year.

Guerrero said the Philippine military will be banking on a national policy and defense agenda to develop a “credible defense force” by strengthening the country’s naval and air capabilities. This, he pointed out, would result in a “more effective” monitoring and control of sea lanes and air space within the region.

“For this, we will reinforce our Maritime Domain awareness on our maritime areas of interest particularly our sea lanes of communications. We will also push through with our capability build-up in order to enhance our maritime operations capability,” he explained.

The AFP also seeks improvements in the country’s international security engagements, including the activation of the International Military Affairs Center.

Guerrero also wants to shift the training methodology for AFP’s peacekeeping units “involving temporarily formed units to deploying existing units.”

According to Col. Edgard Arevalo, the AFP’s public affairs chief, Guerrero’s plans shows that the military is on track with its goals.

“The Command Guidance outlines the Chief of Staff’s courses of action and orders for the line units and offices to follow to ensure that the AFP remains on track on its short and long-term goals,” Arevalo said.

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