September 24, 2020, Camp BGen Rafael T Crame, Quezon City. The Philippines hosted the 20th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (20th SOMTC) via zoom meeting on September 24, 2020. This is the firs-ever conduct of online meeting for the ASEAN member-countries under the new normal due to the current pandemic situation affecting the world. The meeting was chaired by SOMTC Leader Philippines USEC BERNARDO C FLORECE, JR from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and conducted virtually via zoom webinar in B Hotel, Quezon City. PMGEN MARNI C MARCOS, Director DIDM, as the OPR of the said activity in the PNP joined other PNP delegates as Observers where they observed the proceedings via virtual zoom at the PNP Main Conference Room.
Around 160 delegates joined the virtual meeting participated by Senior Officials from ASEAN Member-States, the ASEAN Secretariat, to include members of the Philippine delegation as observers via secured platform provided by the secretariat. No less than DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano graced the said event and emphasized the growing challenges and new forms of transnational crimes that emerged during this pandemic which calls for stronger collaboration among ASEAN member-countries.
The ASEAN member-countries presented a short country report in combating Transnational Crime amidst COVID-19 pandemic. Transnational crime issues such as: Illicit Drug Trafficking, Trafficking in Persons, Terrorism, Arms Smuggling, Cybercrime, and Wildlife and Timber Trafficking. USEC Florece’s country presentation highlighted the efforts made by the Philippine government against COVID-19 pandemic and shared that the Philippines, retained its Tier 1 status in the US State Department’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, which shows the strong commitment of the Philippine government in addressing human trafficking, as the ASEAN SOMTC Voluntary Lead Shepherd on trafficking in persons.
The hosting of the 20th SOMTC via zoom webinar is a joint effort of the DILG as the SOMTC Philippines Leader and other relevant government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Philippine National Police, among others.
Brunei Darussalam will be the next host of the 21st SOMTC and its Related Meetings in 2021. In closing, USEC Florece highlighted his speech on the key outcomes of the meeting and thanked all ASEAN member-states for their support and cooperation to the Philippines as the host of the first-ever conduct of SOMTC meeting via online platform.