CEBU CITY–The Philippine experience using military equipment and units in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) is being viewed as unique by other ASEAN members.
This was disclosed by Defense Assistant Secretary for Assessment and International Affairs Raymund Jose Quilop during an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Monday.
This is because other ASEAN member states are using purely civilian agencies in dealing with HADR missions.
“In other ASEAN countries, they have their own disaster response teams. (The context is that) in other ASEAN countries, it is quite challenging even for the civilian sector to tap into their military assets to use for disasters. For us, it is very easy as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are both part of the Department of National Defense (DND),” Quilop said.
Quilop and other Defense officials are in Cebu City to participate in the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting (ADSOM) which will be held on April 5 to 6.
In the said meeting, the use of ASEAN military assets and its capacities in HADR will be among the key topics to be discussed.
“And the very reason why (there is) a paper about the use of military assets (is) because we all know that when disaster strikes, militaries are called to respond although it is the purview of civilian agencies like in our case, the Office of Civil Defense,” Quilop emphasized.
He added discussions on the usage of military equipment and troops in HADR missions need to be tackled as other ASEAN nations are not yet familiar with the concept.
ASEAN is a regional organization comprising 10 Southeast Asian states which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members.
Since its formation on Aug. 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, the organization’s membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Its principal aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and socio-cultural evolution among its members, alongside the protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.