Arms Trade Ratification

Strategic Trade Management Office (STMO) Director Atty. Luis Manuel Catibayan addressed the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during the deliberation on Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) held last 2 September 2021.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and attended by relevant government agencies, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Office of the Special Envoy on Transnational Crime (OSETC), Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of National Defense (DND), and the STMO.

The ATT regulates the international trade in conventional arms and seeks to prevent and eradicate its illicit trade and diversion. The Philippines has signed the treaty on September 26, 2013, but has yet to ratify it.

“The STMO fully supports the ratification of the ATT,” Director Catibayan stated. “Being a State Party to the treaty will allow the Philippines to demonstrate its commitment in the proper management of conventional arms and boost its reputation as a safe trading environment.”

As ratification will legally bind the country to comply, Director Catibayan noted that Republic Act No. 10697, otherwise known as the Strategic Trade Management Act (STMA), already covers a significant part of the requirements under the ATT, particularly on the establishment of a national control system and a national control list.

The STMO also allayed industry concerns that the ATT will impose controls that will result in denials of arms import to the Philippines. Concurring with the position of the DND that “the decision to allow or deny the import of arms is based on the criteria and discretion of the exporting state,” Director Catibayan said, “Ratification of the ATT assures exporters worldwide that the Philippines has national controls consistent with global standards. It will not hamper but rather facilitate the trade of conventional arms.”

The Director further highlighted the efforts being made by the STMO and the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office in easing the regulatory burden of its stakeholders. Both offices are currently formalizing an agreement on the jurisdiction of regulated items as well as looking into applying the same risk-assessment criteria in its processes.

“We at the STMO envision the Philippines as one of the leading figures in implementing the ATT and other international instruments on conventional arms in the region. By setting an example, we hope to encourage our Asian neighbors to ratify the treaty and to further work together in maintaining international peace and security,” Director Catibayan affirmed.

The full intervention of Director Catibayan may be accessed through the following link.

Date of Release: 14 October 2021