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Philippines thanks US for $50-M maritime security aid initiative

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines’ top diplomat acknowledged the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee for introducing a Maritime Security Initiative in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

The move allots $50 million to help enhance the maritime security capacities of countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Senate Armed Services Committee has demonstrated keen interest in developments in Asia, particularly on maritime security. 

President Barack Obama first unveiled the assistance plan when he visited Manila last November. 

Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin met with Sens. John McCain and Jack Reed, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively, last Jan. 12.

“We wish to thank the Senate Armed Services Committee for the priority it has accorded to US engagement with Asia-Pacific and for the committee’s statements calling for stronger US presence in the region,” Del Rosario said in behalf of the Philippine delegation.

The two secretaries also noted McCain’s comments against China’s recent test flight over Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef and the committee’s consistent efforts to prod the US government to continue with legitimate challenges to China’s illegal claims in the South China Sea.

In a statement, McCain welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“This landmark agreement between the United States and the Philippines will bring our alliance to a level of cooperation and integration that we have not witnessed in decades,” he said.

“As Manila finds itself the target of Chinese coercion in the West Philippine Sea and is looking to Washington for leadership, this agreement will give us new tools to deepen our alliance with the Philippines, expand engagement with the Philippine Armed Forces, and enhance our presence in Southeast Asia,” said McCain.

 

ACIRC ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE AS MANILA DEL ROSARIO DEL ROSARIO AND DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT FIERY CROSS FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERT JACK REED SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE SOUTHEAST ASIA
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