The United States and the Philippines participated in a virtual Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) workshop last week to demonstrate their shared commitment to preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).   

Through briefings and discussions of regional proliferation issues, as well as maritime scenario discussions, the United States and the Philippines explored ways to best confront proliferation threats and leverage laws and regulations to stop proliferation.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a U.S. Defense Department agency that works to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks, organized the workshop, which involved participants from across the governments of both countries.  U.S. participants from the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security joined Philippine representatives from the National Security Council, the Departments of National Defense and Foreign Affairs, the Anti-Terrorism Center, the National Coast Watch Center, and the Strategic Trade Management Office.

“The Philippines has been a leader in preparing to mitigate threats stemming from WMD and Philippine experts are working diligently to protect their citizens and the broader region from these threats,” said Andrea Yaffe, Director of Transnational Threats, U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, who led the U.S. delegation.  “Through our third PSI workshop together, both sides continued to assess the evolution of WMD proliferation threats and ways to leverage whole-of-government cooperation as well as domestic and international laws and regulations to interdict WMD-related materials, if opportunities arise.”

According to the head of the Philippine delegation, National Security Council Deputy Director General Damian Carlos, “[W]e learned from the previous PSI workshops and exercises that building up the Philippines’ counterproliferation capabilities significantly impacts the future of our interdiction practices in the country and in the region.”

The PSI is a global initiative with 107 endorsers that demonstrates the international community’s commitment and political will to prevent the proliferation of WMD.  Through its flexible and voluntary structure, the PSI enables endorsing countries like the Philippines to take action to prevent the proliferation of WMD and delivery systems, consistent with domestic and international authorities. 

“This kind of capacity building is truly important so that we can effectively and efficiently address the emerging concern about proliferation of WMD, and secure our countries from the threats surrounding the misuse of dual-use goods and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials,” noted Caimo Pancratius Cascolan, Executive Director of the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council’s Program Management Center.