MANILA, Philippines – Amid a maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Philippine Navy is hosting the annual Asean Navy Chiefs Meeting, an activity which aims to further enhance the degree of cooperation and interoperability among the navies in the region.
The formal opening ceremony was held at Raffles Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Tuesday with President Benigno Aquino III as guest of honor and speaker.
The activity, which will be held from September 9 to 11, also aims to promote regional maritime security and stability through initiatives.
Participants are chiefs of navies from Brunei, Cambodian, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.
Other than the Philippines, claimants of the West Philippine Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Aquino said that with this kind of meetings “we can make progress on that front—where we can truly solidify our ties and protect our common seas,” but without referring to the conflict in West Philippine Sea.
“The end in sight: Freedom of navigation, the safety of commercial vessels, and the security of their civilian passengers, all of which are especially important given the Asean Economic Community, which we intend to establish by 2015. This is precisely what all of us here want to ensure; and it gives me great optimism that all of you are here to talk and listen to each other about how we can better pursue these goals,” he said.
The first Asean Navy Chiefs Meeting was held in Thailand in 2001.