The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (US-DTRA) supports the efforts of the Bureau of Customs to enhance the agency’s capability in handling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
Under the US Department of Defense, the US-DTRA Strategic Arms Offense Elimination (SOAE) Program partnered with the country’s Department of Trade and Industry-Strategic Management Office (STMO) to conduct a WMD Material Post-Interdiction Disposition Needs and Gap Analysis.
The SOAE Program aims to support the safe and secure elimination of WMD delivery systems, as well as related materials, technologies, and expertise.
During the courtesy call by representatives from the US-DTRA on Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz, the US-DTRA team expressed willingness to potentially assist the BOC with training on identifying, handling, and transporting dual goods before disposal.
The US-DTRA and STMO also visited BOC ports to assess the existing protocols and capabilities in handling dual goods and they will provide a report containing their initial evaluation and recommendations.
For his part, Commissioner Ruiz said the BOC would work closely with the US-DTRA in developing a cohesive plan for the agency in addressing concerns on the identification, safe handling, transportation, disposition, and counterproliferation of WMD materials.
Ruiz said the BOC would provide the review team from the U.S. government with the issues and challenges faced by the agency.
The US-DTRA met with various Philippine government agencies to understand WMD and related delivery systems concerns.
The team has visited the Manila International Container Port (MICP), headed by District Collector Arnoldo Famor, the Port of Manila (POM), headed by District Collector Michael Angelo Vargas, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, headed by District Collector Carmelita Talusan, to evaluate the ports’ capacity to perform assessments and dispose of WMD materials transiting through the country and the region.
Famor said the collaboration would strengthen the working relationship between the BOC and US-DTRA while addressing WMD issues and concerns internationally.
Vargas said the BOC-POM will maintain its collaborative efforts with the US-DTRA as an international partner of the BOC in preventing and reducing WMD threats involving illicit goods crossing international borders.
On the other hand, Talusan said the BOC-NAIA would remain vigilant on illegal goods in the interest of national security and public safety.Ruiz said the BOC, in accordance with the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., is committed to intensifying border protection efforts through close collaboration with the US-DTRA while advancing US-Philippines bilateral relationship.