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Welcome remarks of Chairman Oscar Valenzuela at the APEC 5th Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CWTG) Meeting

APEC 5th Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CWTG) Meeting

May 10, 2015

Paradise Garden Hotel and Convention Center, Boracay

Chairman Oscar Valenzuela

Welcome Remarks

CTWG Welcome Remarks wide 3

Good morning to all of you.

Welcome to Boracay Island! This island is one of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines. You might have observed it yesterday or the other day, it is s one of the most visited islands, both by local and foreign tourist. After our meetings, I encourage you all to take advantage of your time here and explore the island and see what it has to offer.

Welcome to the 5th meeting of the CTWG. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the APEC National Organizing Committee and the Conference Management Services for choosing Boracay as a venue for this meeting, for the excellent arrangements and for ensuring that our stay in Boracay will be pleasant and comfortable.

In our last meeting in January 31 and February 1 at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, we were given a presentation by the Deputy Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Undersecretary Ferdinand Cui Jr., on the APEC priorities for this year. Please allow me to state these priorities again:

Building sustainable and resilient economies, promoting investments in human capital developments, encouraging the participation of small and medium enterprises in regional and global markets, and enhancing the economic integration of the region.

With these priorities as one of our guideposts, we discussed and approved our Work Plan for 2015.

This 2015 Work Plan, in essence, is a continuation of the 2014 CTWG Work Plan, but now carrying with it additional features to make it more responsive to the current terrorism threats confronting the APEC region.

It put in a new effort to address the matter of foreign terrorist fighters, and the related matter of countering violent extremism.

We are looking forward to the presentation by Russia on the implications of the ISIS/ISIL/IS threat to the APEC region. It will aid us in understanding the matter, make our perspective clearer, and help us contextualize and see better its implications in the region.

Our 2015 Work Plan set deliverables on capacity building projects activities on implementing the Counter Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy, and enhancing the effectiveness of these capacity building projects and activities by placing greater focus on monitoring and evaluating these projects.

And our 2015 work also encourages us to consider and implement appropriate recommendations set forth in the Independent Assessor’s Reports.

One of these is the matter of the designation of a Vice Chair, which is included in the agenda of this meeting.

Also in our last meeting, the APEC Secretariat reported on the CTAP for 2014, which presented the summary results in terms of capacity gaps and opportunities of the economies that submitted updated information on their counter terrorism action plans (CTAPs). There were 14 updates from APEC economies received, where it showed that in general there are more opportunities than gaps, especially in the Protect Cargo section.

The Chair is appreciative of the workshop done in the sidelines of the 4th CTWG meeting, the Secure Finance Workshop on New Payment Systems. The Chair would like to thank the United States for this activity.

We looked into our inter-sessional activities and our accomplishments:

  1. Updating of the CTWG Strategic Plan 2013- 2017 in 2014;
  2. The holding of the APEC IX STAR Conference;
  3. Joint projects with Business Mobility Group (BMG) and the Sub-committee on Customs Procedure (SCCP) to develop Trusted Traveler Characteristics and Best Practices on Implementing the Advance Passenger Information Systems;
  4. Conduct of a follow on activity on Bus Anti-Terrorism Workshop;
  5. Our multi-year project on Protecting Designated Non-financial Business and Professions;
  6. The US self funded project on Secure Finance Workshop on Countering Financing of Terrorism with New Payment Systems;
  7. The APEC funded projects on Major Events Security Framework;
  8. The Workshop on Critical Infrastructure Security; and
  9. The Joint CTWG/Transportation Working Group/SCCP Global Trade Recovery Information Platform (GTRIP)

In our last meeting, we also looked at our activities in other international fora where some economies reported on their current individual efforts and jointly with international organizations and their activities in other international fora. To name a few of these international organizations – Interpol, GCTF, UNODC, ASEAN, and EU CBRN Centers of Excellence.

Objectives of the 5th CTWG meeting

So in our meetings today and tomorrow, we are to:

  1. Give updates on our own CTAPs,
  2. Compare notes, share experiences and assess our efforts as a group, looking specifically at the four cross cutting areas of our work: secure travel, secure supply chain, finance and secure infrastructure.
  3. Determine where we now stand as far as the implementation of the APEC Strategy on CT and Secure Trade 2013 – 2017 is concerned, and to determine what still has to be done, and noting that we are halfway in the implementation of the Strategy.
  4. Determine also what we can do to support this year’s APEC priority objectives.

Chairman’s Guidance

From the time we met in SOM1 in Subic up to today, we see in the news how the threat of terrorism continues to pervade in the region. We have seen terror related incidents occur, from shootings, abductions/kidnappings, and IED incidents. We have seen the continued violence perpetrated by ISIS/ISIL/IS and other like-minded groups. We have witnessed how they spread their perverse and violent ideology on the Internet.

Terrorism is a blight that affects us all, directly or indirectly. It disrupts the security in the region, which in turn affects commerce, trade, travel, and other economic undertakings.

That is why we must, individually, and as one region, through joint actions, do our utmost, to protect the region’s people and its economic trade, investment, and financial systems.

Some of these acts of terror have directly affected APEC member economies, although the region is still relatively more secure compared to other regions. But this must not make us complacent. Against an enemy which has the determination, constantly changing an adapting its tactics and techniques, and suddenly striking at any moment, we must be proactive in our stance and likewise make preparations to mitigate its unwanted effects should terrorism happen. We must be equally determined to protect our way of life, our aspiration for collective peace and progress. The price we have to pay for the protection of the region’s people and securing its economic systems is continued vigilance.

The fight against terrorism is a difficult one, but it is not an impossible one. We must continue to collaborate with each other and with relevant APEC Working Groups and stakeholders to speed up and maximize our efforts. We must foster the spirit of collaboration and cooperation between our economies. It is through our unity, cooperation, and collaboration that we will succeed in our endeavors.

For the next two days, we must build on what we have accomplished. Through our interactions, may we strengthen our established programs and measures, exchange best practices, and bring new ideas to the fore. It is our hope that all economies will participate and contribute to the discussions. Let us all work together and make this meeting a fruitful and productive one.

Let us roll up our sleeves, and tackle the work at hand.

Good morning again to everyone.

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