(Philippine Center on Transnational Crime logo)

MANILA, Mar 6 (Mabuhay) — Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday called for stronger cooperation in the region to boost its capacity to respond to persistent threats of weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking before officials and delegates of the European Union (EU) and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in Malacanang, Ochoa emphasized the importance of forging deeper alliance and collaboration to ward off chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats confronting the world today.

“The key word in the midst of all these efforts is cooperation. As our world gets smaller and criminal elements have shown that they will not hesitate to cross borders to inflict harm to our citizens, it becomes imperative for us to work together to improve our capacity to respond to threats of all kinds, particularly CBRN dangers,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa, chairman of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC), delivered the opening remarks during Wednesday’s official opening of the CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Regional Secretariat for Southeast Asia (SEA) in the Philippines. The office will be housed in the Mabini Hall inside the Malacañang complex.

“CBRN threats are not limited to those posed by criminal elements. Countries in our region are also exposed to accidental or natural CBRN threats and the lack of exposure of some nations to these sorts of dangers mean that some countries are better equipped than others to deal with these concerns,” the Executive Secretary said.

According to Ochoa, the establishment of the regional secretariats is envisioned to address issues stemming from the dangers of CBRN while ensuring the high level of cooperation and coordination between partner countries, donors and international organizations in pursuing programs that will prepare partner nations in emergency cases.

He expressed gratitude to international agencies for choosing the Philippines as host to the institution that will take the lead in regional efforts to improve coordination and preparedness in dealing with CBRN threats in SEA.

He pointed out that having the EU-CBRN CoE office in Mabini Hall, where the ATC and PCTC hold offices, will improve coordination and harmonize government efforts in fighting terrorism, transnational crimes and CBRN dangers.

“Having all these related offices under one roof will allow for closer coordination and information sharing between the bodies concerned with tackling CBRN threats,” Ochoa said. (MNS)