The National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), through the Philippine Center of Excellence in Defense, Development, and Security (PCEDS), held another virtual conference titled “Counterterrorism in the Philippines: Looking at the Military, Gender, and International Perspectives” on 13 August 2021. The local conference provided a view of the efforts made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other pertinent stakeholders in response to terrorism. It also reviewed strategies against terrorism from the perspectives of military, international, and gender-based studies.
The speakers during the event were BGen Alex S Rillera PA, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, AFP; Dr Rosalie Arcala-Hall, Professor at the College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines-Visayas; and Mr Niki Esse de Lang, Counterterrorism Advisor at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
During his presentation, BGen Rillera shared that relative peace is now being experienced in the areas of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi—years after a siege between government forces and armed groups transpired in the city of Marawi, Lanao del Sur. According to him, the AFP is ready to implement contingencies to fend off possible atrocities amid the political situation in the region. Dr Arcala-Hall, on one hand, provided an overview of the current debates among international scholars centered on terrorism as a type of violent conflict, the role of state security, military competencies, and gender aspects of counterterrorism strategies. Meanwhile, Mr de Lang underscored that international cooperation in terrorism cases is a complicated and multi-faceted endeavor. He explained that it requires solid laws, policies, and adherence to international laws and treaties, which are applied by officials who understand those laws, procedures, and mechanisms.
Capping off the virtual event, BGen Archimedes H Viaje AFP (Ret), PhD, MNSA, CESE, President of the NDCP, said the PCEDS-led conference brought light to the topic from diverse standpoints of military, gender, and international views. “The more perspective we gain, the closer we get to truly solving a multi-faceted problem,” BGen Viaje said.
More than 150 participants were present during the conference, which coincided with the celebration of the NDCP’s 58th founding anniversary. The participants consisted of NDCP officials and personnel, students of the Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Program and the National Security Studies Program (NSSP), as well as stakeholders from the AFP, and the departments of National Defense and Interior and Local Government.