Maritime security was the focus of the 2nd webinar jointly conducted by the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) and the Hawaii-based Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS).
The webinar was held on 17 June 2020, from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM via Microsoft Teams.
The speaker was Atty Jay L Batongbacal, LLB, PhD, Executive Associate Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law and Director of the university’s Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
Capt Kimberly B McCann USN and Prof Alexander L Vuving PhD of the DKI APCSS were the discussants.
In his welcome remarks, DKI APCSS Director RAdm (ret) Peter A Gumataotao, noted China’s use of maritime grey zone operations in the South China Sea (SCS). He emphasized the need to take action to ensure a secure and prosperous region.
Atty Batongbacal’s presentation explored the prospects for cooperation amidst rising tensions in the South SCS. He discussed how Chinese activities in the SCS heavily affect the national security of smaller states around the disputed waters in terms of energy security, food security, environmental security, and territorial and jurisdictional integrity.
He argued that the Code of Conduct (COC) between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China is ASEAN’s principal vehicle for addressing the SCS disputes. The COC, he said, can become a mechanism for cooperation and co-optation.
He said further that the biggest challenge for the ASEAN member states is to ensure that the COC will result to cooperation based on mutual interests and not co-optation where a dominant party can take over the weaker party’s interests.
Atty Batongbacal underscored the need for smaller states to counter possible co-optation with greater cooperation to ensure the prevalence of mutual interests, the presence of freedom of choice, the availability of partnership with non-competitors, and the full independence/autonomy of national policy- and decision-making.
NDCP President BGen Archimedes H Viaje AFP (Ret), PhD, MNSA, CESE, said in his closing remarks that the Philippines puts great value in its sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially on maritime security and protection of its territorial waters. He noted that the Philippines’ alliance with the United States and partnership with other powers in the Asia-Pacific region provide a strong platform for maritime security cooperation.
The webinar drew 216 participants representing 80 institutions and agencies. Participants were NDCP officials, faculty, alumni and Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Regular Class 55 students; members of the AFP Command and General Staff Course Class 67; DKI APCSS officials, faculty and Filipino alumni; government officials; military officers; members of the academe and private sector representatives.
The NDCP and DKI APCSS have agreed to hold a series of webinars on common security concerns. The first webinar focused on geopolitics in the 21st century.