MANILA— There is a strong need to secure the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc given its economic leverage and potential, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año said.
He said ASEAN has become a “rising global economic force” due to its strategic location and economic activity — abundant resources, a more integrated market, and a large combined Gross Domestic Product from its members.
“By providing security to our respective nations, we create a better environment for growth and prosperity. And through purposive security cooperation, we actually help to secure and sustain our region’s economic gains. We all know that a secure ASEAN is a progressive ASEAN,” Año said during the ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) held in Metro Manila recently.
He cited as example the existing trilateral agreement among three ASEAN countries — the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia — to combat trans-border crimes, terrorism, piracy, and other militant activities in the Sulu-Sulawesi-Celebes Sea.
“This partnership with neighbors will negate the threats and shows that strong military cooperation is important in aligning our security requirements and initiatives,” Año said.
The meeting, attended by the ten military chiefs from the ASEAN member states, is scheduled to be held next year in Singapore.
ASEAN member-states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.