Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.
(UPDATE) THE United States and Australia expressed willingness to conduct joint maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea with the Philippines.
The issue was discussed by the respective defense secretaries of the two countries with Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
Galvez met with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles on Wednesday."As countries which are committed to the global rules-based order, it is natural that we should think about ways in which we can cooperate in this respect," Marles said during a joint press briefing with Galvez.
Senior Undersecretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Officer-in-Charge of the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence of Australia Honorable Richard Marles MP shared the two countries’ aspiration for collective security and defense in Indo-Pacific during their high-level meeting on Wednesday. Photo from Department of National Defense - Philippines Senior Undersecretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Officer-in-Charge of the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence of Australia Honorable Richard Marles MP shared the two countries' aspiration for collective security and defense in Indo-Pacific during their high-level meeting on Wednesday. Photo from Department of National Defense - Philippines
"We did talk today about the possibility of exploring joint patrols, and we will continue that work and we hope that comes to fruition soon," he added.
Marles said the Philippines and Australia are "deeply invested" in asserting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (Unclos), particularly in the West Philippine Sea.
Galvez said that Australia was one of the first countries to conduct joint patrol with the Philippines in 2017. The Philippine-Australia joint patrol at the Celebes and Sulu Sea led to the establishment of the trilateral defense cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia.
Meanwhile, US Defense chief Lloyd Austin 3rd discussed with Galvez also on Wednesday several proposals to deepen cooperation and enhance shared security, including the resumption of joint operations in the South China Sea.
Based on a handout provided by Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Austin discussed with Galvez by phone developments in the West Philippine Sea, including the recent incident in which a Chinese coast guard vessel directed a military-grade laser at the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard ship off Ayungin Shoal.
The US defense official also underscored the commitment of the US to support the "lawful rights and operations" of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.
He reiterated that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, aircraft and public vessels, including those of its coast guard, will invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
Austin reaffirmed the US Defense Department's commitment to help bolster the Philippines' defense capabilities and capacity to resist coercion.
Opportunities to expand security cooperation with other countries "that seek to uphold the rules-based international order and our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," such as Japan, were also discussed, the Pentagon said.
Both defense officials committed to advance an "ambitious set of initiatives" leading up to the 2+2 Ministerial in Washington D.C. in the second quarter of this year.
Marles, who arrived in Manila Tuesday night, announced that Australia and the Philippines will sign a strategic partnership on the heels of the meeting between Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in November 2022.
Galvez and Marles agreed to establish on an annual basis a Defense Ministers' Meeting between the two countries the first of which will be held in Australia"We're gonna work together to look at ways in which we can deepen the opportunities where Filipino servicemen and women can work alongside Australian servicemen and women, and to that we're building upon training which is occurring right now in Mindanao," he said.
He said Australia will send one of the largest contingents to the Balikatan exercises in the coming months while the Philippines, for the first time, will send observers to Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia in August.
Marles noted that Australia and the Philippines have a "greater strategic alignment than we've had in any moment in our respective histories."
"It is deeply connected to our respective national interests that the rules of the road as they apply to a body of water such as the South China Sea, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the freedom of navigation, the freedom of overflight, all of these principles are completely central to our national interests, to our collective security," the Australian official said.
Australia is the second country, next to the US, with which the Philippines has a reciprocal visiting forces agreement, signed in 2007.
Just this week, the two countries kicked off their six-week Army-to-Army Exercise.
Marles will meet with President Marcos to discuss the two nations' bilateral ties.
tjmora on February 22nd, 2023 at 16:45 UTC »
The Philippines had always asked for military aid in exchange of its concessions to the US. But the US is still largely hesitant of giving the Philippines more military aid. The Philippines cannot be relied upon to handle even most of the US's 90s military tech. Cybersecurity is severely lacking in the Philippines. Also, there are corrupt politicians and military officers in the Philippines who might be in China's pocket. China may even have a lot of spies and splinter cells working in the Philippines right now.
With the US generally unwilling to give or sell more up-to-date military tech to the Philippines, the US needs to offer something that's different. And offering joint patrols in the South China Sea might be one of the only few things they can think of in exchange of the Philippines giving the US access to some of its military bases.
Hidden-Syndicate on February 22nd, 2023 at 14:48 UTC »
I do not blame the Philippines one but for this move given China’s aggression and disregard for maritime peaceful composure, but I can’t help but think this is another cranking up of the wheel that leads to US-China confrontation. It’s like a train going downhill with no breaks, we can all see what’s at the end of this track, but can do nothing to alter its course.
Cheezied on February 22nd, 2023 at 13:49 UTC »