INTERPOL programme aims to foster maritime security in Southeast Asia
MANILA, Philippines – An INTERPOL training programme has strengthened the skills of more than 300 Philippine law enforcement officers to respond to port and maritime threats.
With terrorism-related kidnappings and the smuggling of dangerous substances among the challenges affecting the Philippine port and maritime sector, officers from 36 participating agencies took part in a series of maritime security training, tabletop exercises and operational activities.
“By combining our efforts through inter-agency cooperation and collaboration, we can exploit and allocate resources more efficiently to achieve better and sustainable results against lawlessness,” said Salvador Medialdea, Executive Secretary of the Philippines, at a closing ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
Elizabeth Baldwin-Jones, Counsellor of Political and Public Affairs, Embassy of Canada in Manila, said: “We know that our security is linked to each other’s security, and we must all work together therefore to address security challenges of shared concern, including in countering terrorism and violent extremism.”
“Canada is committed to working with the Philippines to identify and address terrorist threats and criminal activities, including through significant law enforcement capacity building projects INTERPOL is delivering,” added Ms Baldwin-Jones.
Jointly funded by INTERPOL and the Government of Canada, the INTERPOL Capacity Building Programme for Port and Maritime Security in the Philippines was launched in May 2015 and implemented by INTERPOL’s Training and Capacity Building, Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism units.
Harold O’Connell, INTERPOL’s Director of Capacity Building and Training, said: "This project was an excellent platform to showcase the commitment of Philippine authorities to use INTERPOL policing capabilities to safeguard its coastline, the fifth largest in the world.”
“Training and operations in the southern region of Philippines, combined with strategic dialogue at a national level, illustrates how capacity building fosters maritime security in Southeast Asia,” added Mr O’Connell.
In January of this year, INTERPOL provided training on its I-24/7 secure communications system to Philippine authorities during Operation Barracuda, to complement maritime security during the hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in Cebu.
The week-long operation saw 16 Philippine law enforcement agencies carry out some 10 million searches against INTERPOL’s global databases, resulting in nine positive hits on individuals subject to internationally wanted Red Notices on charges which included murder and fraud.
As part of the programme, equipment and patrol boats were also donated to authorities in the ports of Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga to enhance security along their coastline.