MANILA -- The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday touted the improvement of the country's security ties with its foreign counterparts in addressing issues on terrorism and radicalism as one of the agency's major achievements this year.

"On international defense and security engagements, the Department of National Defense successfully hosted various activities in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana chaired the 11th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and 4th ADMM-Plus on 23-24 October 2017 in Clark, Pampanga where defense ministers of ASEAN member countries exchanged views on regional and international defense and security issues," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

Last October, defense officials of the ASEAN member-states signed the “Joint Declaration on Partnering for Change, Engaging the World” as well as documents on ADMM and ADMM Plus initiatives, and issued a joint statement on countering extremism, radicalism, and terrorism.

Andolong said the defense department conducted the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM) and Working Group and ADSOM Plus WG meetings in Manila and Cebu during the first quarter of 2017, and discussed proposals for cooperation between ADMM and ADMM Plus, which was followed by the ADSOM and ADSOM-Plus meeting proper.

The DND also participated in the 14th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Security Policy Conference where leaders, including North Korea, exchanged views on regional and international defense and security issues, reserve forces, and regional security.

In line with improving security ties with its ASEAN partners, the Philippines also signed the terms of reference on the Joint Committee on Military Cooperation and the launch of the Trilateral Air Patrol (TAP) in Subang, Malaysia last Oct. 12.

Last June, Andolong said the Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) was launched in Tarakan, Indonesia.

Defense ministers of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia witnessed the launching of the Maritime Command Centers facilitating trilateral cooperation among the three countries in addressing security challenges in the region.

Lorenzana also had multilateral engagements including the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in Moscow, Russia and the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada in April and November, respectively.

He also paid an official visit to Singapore to meet with his counterpart and deliver a special address on ASEAN cooperation at the 5th Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting, which is the first time a special dinner address was held in the said forum, said Andolong.

Lorenzana also led the department in engaging more countries to support the Philippines’ peace and security agenda in the region.

Among the defense cooperation agreements entered into by the DND this year were those with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Russia, and UK.

Logistics and defense industry arrangements were also signed with China. (PNA)