Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra is pushing for a stronger legal cooperation within the ASEAN region, in the recently concluded ASEAN Law Ministers Meeting (ALAWMM) and ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), held via videoconference and hosted by Malaysia.
The 11th ALAWMM was held on 27 October 2021, and 20th ASLOM was held on 25-26 October 2021, and took place in parellel with the ASEAN Summit which was attended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
During the 20th ASLOM, the Philippines has offered to host the 4th Working Group (WG) on ASEAN Extradition Treaty (AET) in 2022.
The newly-established ASLOM WG on AET aims to come up with the agreed final draft AET within two years from the date of endorsement of the Terms of Reference (TOR) by ASLOM which will complement the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (MLAT) in strengthening ASEAN’s resilience and capacity to combat transnational crimes and enhancing cooperation within ASEAN to ensure respect for the rule of law.
During 1st WG AET Meeting on 06-07 April 2021, the working group was able to agree on its TOR on the drafting of the AET and start discussions on the working document.
Treaty on Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP)
During the ASLOM, the Philippines proposed for the creation of a WG for the development of an ASEAN-wide TSP. Despite the lack of consensus on the said proposal, the ASEAN Member States (AMS) requested the ASEAN Secretariat to provide a non-paper to guide and assist ASLOM on the possibility of convening a Technical Working Group among like-minded ASEAN Member States to see further areas of work on the proposal for an ASEAN-wide Convention on TSP.
ASLOM-Japan and ASLOM-Hague Convention on Private International Law (HCCH) Consultations
Part of the meeting agenda was the engagement and consultation with external parties and institutions on issues of common concern and interest to help advance ASEAN integration and community-building agenda.
During the ASLOM-Japan Consultation, Japan proposed to develop a Japan-ASEAN Work Plan which will identify and deepen specific fields of cooperation, as well as activities to be undertaken, and hold a Criminal Justice Forum for Asia and the Pacific to bring together criminal justice practitioners to strengthen regional cohesion and commitment for international cooperation.
The HCCH Consultation highlighted the importance of synergies and cooperation between HCCH and ASEAN and benefits of joining HCCH conventions.
These engagements aim to build a strong foundation for ASLOM and its counterparts to further discuss and explore practical areas of cooperation and collaboration.
The Philippines will host the 21st ASLOM
Aside from its proposal to host the WG on AET in 2022, the Philippines likewise proposed to host the 21st ASLOM in the last quarter of 2022.
It should also be noted that the ALAWMM adopted the recommendation to increase the frequency of meetings. ASLOM and ALAWMM will meet every year and every two years, respectively.
Role of the DOJ
The DOJ is the central authority for international legal cooperation.
The Philippine Delegation
The Philippine delegation was composed of Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, head of delegation for ALAWMM, Chief State Counsel George O. Ortha II, head of delegation for ASLOM, Assistant Chief State Counsel Mildred B. Alvor, State Counsels Bernadette C. Ongoco, Grace L. Estrada, Nancy G. Lozano, Maria Laureen D. Suan, Shiara P. Mangoba, Albert Ignatius C. Abragan II, Mary Grace V. Pulido-Sadian, and Donrick Ventura, of the Legal Staff, as members of the delegation.