In an effort to strengthen cooperative policy-making objectives with some of the Philippines’ allied nations, the AFP Civil-Military Operations School, Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines, with the support of the United States Army Military Information Support Team (MIST), conceptualized a trilateral conference to initiate the competency and capacity build-up of agencies involved in Information Support Operations in the Philippines, Indonesia, and USA. The envisioned affair had the objective of integrating the different aspects and approaches of police and military Information Support Operations (ISO)/Information Support Affairs (ISA) on the counterterrorism front, much like a successor to its forerunner, the first roundtable discussion on Philippine Security Forces (PSF) Information Support Operations/Information Support Affairs and Counter Violence/Radicalization which was held on January 2013. As the event progressed into its planning phase, the Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office and Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, under the auspices of the Office of the Executive Secretary, formalized the program by initiating engagements with Indonesian authorities. Likewise, the AFP CMO School, as the primal mover of the event, began coordination with various Philippine government agencies to take part in the activity.
The trilateral conference entitled “Trilateral Conference on Information Support Operations (ISO)/Information Support Affairs (ISA) and Counter-violence and Radicalization (CVR) Efforts in the Counterterrorism Front” successfully materialized on February 2013, and was held at the Seda Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Philippines. The participating Philippine agencies comprised of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC), Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office (LESIO), and the Anti-terrorism Council Program Management Center (ATC-PMC). The Indonesian party included delegates from two of its vital units, the National Counterterrorism Agency – Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme (BNPT), and Special Detachment 88 – Detasemen Khusus 88. The United States brought in the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P), US Military Informations Support Team (MIST), and US Embassy representatives for Philippines and Indonesia.
The success of this collaborative endeavour has provided a mechanism for improving interagency linkages and coordination among organizations from international, regional, and local levels through the synchronization of capability efforts in addressing the complexities of terrorism. As the conference provided an avenue for the strategic exchange of informative dialogues, skills, expertise and best practices, the foreseen opportunity to align and integrate varying techniques in policy-making, procedures, and decision-making mobilises the development of synergy and compatibility among these nations. As mutual regional problems between Indonesia and Philippines became apparent during the engagement, the AFP CMO School, CRSAFP, increasingly finds itself in the role of a multilateral conference delegate as the coordinated effort to face these challenges expands throughout Southeast Asia. In an aim to further develop relationships among partners and enhance various approaches to countering violent extremism based on best practices and real world encounters, a succeeding assembly was held at the Sintesa Peninsula Hotel in Manado, Indonesia on November 2013 which set the stage for a Multilateral Countering Violent Extremism Working Group that included the participation of the newly formed Cambodian National Counterterrorism Committee, and the Royal Thai Army.
From a simple roundtable discussion between the Philippines and the United States Armed Forces, to an expanded multinational cooperation among Southeast Asian countries and the United States, the AFP CMO School has truly been successful in advocating the principles of IPSP Bayanihan and the virtues of public diplomacy. With the continuous determination for local and international collaborations, we are able to work progressively towards the valued goal of winning the peace through the hearts and minds of the people.