The first of a three-part dialogue series that aims to educate on the three pillars of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — ASEAN 2017 Dialogues: “One ASEAN, Safer Together” was hosted Friday, June 16, by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in partnership with Asia Society Philippines, at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City.

The dialogue was presented by ASEAN 2017’s Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC), who was represented in the event by PCOO Undersecretary and CMASC Chair Noel Puyat.

The dialogue was attended by academicians, officials, students, and members of the diplomatic corps. Discussions revolved around critical issues related to the political-security pillar of ASEAN.

These include regional security, cyber-security, non-traditional security in the context of ASEAN, as well as other benefits and challenges of being part of the regional organization.

The panelists include Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Asean Affairs Assistant Secretary Hellen De La Vega; Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary for Assesssments and International Affairs Raymund Jose G. Quilop; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Assistant Bureau Director Drusila Bayate and National Privacy Commission Chairman Raymund Liboro.

Key questions addressed on the topics involved constraints and opportunities for security cooperation for ASEAN Member States, the plan of action for the Philippines and ASEAN to address overlapping exclusive zones, the South China Sea dispute, among other issues.

As the lead agency for the ASEAN Political-Security Pillar, DFA Assistant Secretary Hellen De La Vega opened the dialogue with a brief background on regional security cooperation. She also explained the impact of the South China Sea issue on peace and stability in the region. Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop spoke on national defense capabilities against transnational security issues.

National Privacy Commission Chairman Raymund Liboro, on the other hand, discussed data privacy and protection in the Philippines and in ASEAN, including the steps being undertaken by the government to improve local IT infrastructure and the readiness of the Philippines against cyber attacks and cyber crimes.

The ASEAN 2017 Dialogues will hold subsequent ones on topics relating to the economic and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN.