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21 Nations Attend ASEAN Workshop on Disaster
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 (404 reads)

The two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum Workshop on Disaster opened yesterday, Sept. 12, at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City, bannering the theme: “Civil Military Operations (CMO) in Disaster Response: A Tool Fostering Regional Cooperation to Achieve Peace and Security. Foreign Affairs Secretary Franklin Ebdalin and Defense Undersecretary Antonio C. Santos opened the workshop-forum, which focuses on how the governments will cope with imagined disasters and lessons drawn from scenarios like the Aceh tsunami in Indonesia and the Infanta, Quezon typhoon in the Philippines late last year. Aside from the Philippines which is the ASEAN Regional Forum workshop host, other participating nations are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, European Union, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and others from the Asia-Pacific rim including the United States, China, and Japan. Department of National Defense Public Affairs Director Ros L. Manlangit said the workshop intends to instill among the participants better understanding of the important value of regional cooperation in conducting civil military operations (CMO) during disaster response situations, adding that the “consensus of the body will likewise be reached in proposing best practices of regional cooperation in applying CMOs during disasters.” Defense Secretary Avelino J. Cruz Jr. will grace the closing ceremonies today, Sept 13. Cruz is concurrently chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Newly designated Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Tony Hely will host a dinner for the participants. The CMO is a non-combat activity designed to impact on the economic, social, and political life of the people. It seeks to maintain and enhance the trust, confidence, and cooperation between the military and the civilian populace. CMOs play major roles in restoring stability to the region after a disaster, providing rescue services and medical assistance, delivering supplies, and assisting in cleanup activities. The most recent example of CMO in the region was during the tsunami natural disaster in December 2004 that devastated parts of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand. Defense forces from various countries working together with government and non-government aid agencies to save lives and ease the sufferings of the people is exactly what the CMO is all about. The forum-workshop offers the strategic avenue for countries in the region to promote disaster “awareness” to protect life, property, and the environment, as well as the exchange of experiences and best practices, with lessons learned in disasters among ASEAN countries. (source: Manila Bulletin, Tuesday, 13 September 2005)


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