Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith
25th Anniversary of the Australian Federal Police in the Philippines
03 March 2010
Felizardo Seriapo Jr, Representing Director General Jesus Verzosa, Mayor Alfredo Lim (former Director of NBI), Director Nestor Mantaring, Director NBI, Attorney Mariano Mizon, former Director NBI, other senior officers of PNP, NBI, POEA and AMLAC.
I’d like to welcome everyone to this reception to mark the Australian Federal Police’s 25th year of operations in the Philippines.
This event marks a significant milestone in our security partnership. During the last 25 years Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers have worked closely, cooperatively and successfully with their Philippine counterparts.
The AFP began operations in the Philippines in September 1984 with Federal Agent Dennis Craft serving as the first Senior Police Liaison Officer. Since then, our cooperation as grown from strength to strength on a wide range of law enforcement issues. A particular focus has been on combating transnational crime within both countries and in the Asia-Pacific more broadly.
The investment that both our countries have made and continue to make in this relationship reflects a shared view of the importance of cooperation, regionally and bilaterally, in addressing the law enforcement and security challenges that all our communities face. It reflects a shared recognition that transnational crimes in particular, by their nature, can only be addressed effectively through cross-border cooperation. And it reflects a shared belief that each of our national law enforcement capabilities will benefit from sharing experiences, knowledge and expertise.
I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the significant achievements during the last 25 years:
- In 1992-93, the Australian Government, through the AFP Law Enforcement Assistance Program, provided the Philippines with its first computer mainframe system that assisted the Bureau of Immigration (or as it was known then, the Commission on Immigration and Deportation) to effectively monitor passengers going through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
- The AFP designed the first Sexual Offences Investigators Course in 1997-98 for members of the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Immigration. The course became a template for other countries including the United States, United Kingdom and France for devising similar courses for their domestic law enforcement agencies
- In 2004, Australia launched the Php146 million (A$3.65 million) Philippines Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Project to build the capacity of Philippine law enforcement agencies in intelligence sharing, bomb investigation techniques, forensic capacity and other CT areas at both strategic and operational levels. An additional Php84 million (A$2.1 million) was allocated in 2008-2009 for Phase Two of the project.
- One of the significant achievements of the project was the establishment of the Philippine Bomb Data Centre at Camp Crame in February 2005 which has been instrumental in the resolution of terrorism-related incidents in recent years. The Bomb Data Centre provides Philippine law enforcement agencies with an intelligence gathering capability which enables them to compare and report on findings from different events to find similarities which help to identify offenders. Australia also coordinated with the PNP to have them included in the South East Asia Regional Bomb Data Working Group in 2005 which enables the Philippines to work cooperatively with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia in identifying terrorists.
- In 2006-07 Australia provided the PNP with a Forensics Explosives Laboratory in Camp Crame which enables a full forensics analysis of explosives used in incidents.
- In January last year, Australia and the Philippines opened the Mindanao Area Police Intelligence Office (MAPIO) in Camp Catitipan in Davao. The MAPIO houses a Forensic Explosives Laboratory and a Bomb Data Centre which complement existing facilities in Camp Crame in Manila.
In addition to providing infrastructure, Australia’s assistance has included developing technical and surveillance capabilities, intelligence collection and analysis, analysis of post blast components and bombing techniques, and forensic and other skills particularly related to combating terrorism. Training has also been an important component of our assistance.
Since 1984, more than 1,000 law enforcement officers have been trained by the AFP in disciplines including applied management, intelligence reporting and analysis, investigations management, surveillance, hostage negotiation, Counter Terrorism operations and critical incident management.
The AFP has also provided forensics, intelligence and investigation support to a number of terrorism-related investigations, including the 2004 Superferry bombing and the 2005 Valentine’s Day bombings.
The Australian Government continues to work closely with Philippine law enforcement agencies to further develop Counter Terrorism and transnational crime capabilities.
Last month, the AFP provided three Computerised Composite Illustration Systems, also known as “Facefit”, and seven vehicles to PNP Davao to bolster efforts of CT teams in the southern Philippines.
‘Facefit’, is a high tech capability that produces images of crime suspects from witness descriptions, using a bank of more than 700 stored facial images.
The equipment delivers a more realistic image more quickly than the old technology of hand-drawn sketches. The technology can also be applied in many other activities within the law enforcement environment such as facial depiction of missing persons. In 2009 more than 180 criminal investigations in the Philippines utilised this technology to identify offenders responsible for serious crimes in the community.
This latest equipment now sees a total of five kits available to the PNP which will be strategically positioned across the country to provide a complete capacity to enhance law enforcement efforts to combat security threats and maintain order in communities. We will see a demonstration of the equipment shortly.
As we look back on what we have achieved together over the last 25 years, we are not resting on these achievements. We are also looking forward.
This year, the AFP will provide support to establish a Mindanao Area Police Intelligence Office (MAPIO) in General Santos City and planned activities to assist PNP Intelligence units in Zamboanga to further strengthen the PNP’s campaign against terrorists.
The AFP will continue to work with the National Bureau of Investigation, PNP and NAIA to improve their ability to provide accurate criminal intelligence to safeguard Philippine borders through the provision of networked IT systems, surveillance and other equipment.
Our training will also continue. This year Philippine law enforcement personnel will undertake high-level training programs which will provide officers with up-to-date knowledge across a range of disciplines and support operations.
Together we have made significant progress during the last 25 years to combat transnational crime and terrorism. These efforts between our law enforcement agencies have been based on trust, mutual respect and common interests. We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively into the future.
I’d now like to welcome the AFP senior Liaison Officer, Federal Agent Mick Kilfoyle to the podium to say a few words.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening.