Philippines, US dialogue on defense, economics set next week
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Defense Undersecretary for Operations Cesar Yano will lead the Philippine delegation to the dialogue slated tomorrow until Tuesday.

Philippines, US dialogue on defense, economics set next week

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Top Philippine and US officials will meet this week in Manila for the annual bilateral strategic dialogue (BSD) that is expected to cover issues concerning defense cooperation, economics, rule of law and regional diplomacy.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Defense Undersecretary for Operations Cesar Yano will lead the Philippine delegation to the dialogue slated tomorrow until Tuesday.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the BSD is an annual consultation mechanism to discuss the full range of political, security and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.

This year’s discussions will focus on strengthening cooperation in counter-terrorism, defense and security, economics, law enforcement and criminal justice.

In a separate statement, the US embassy in Manila said Ambassador Sung Kim will join the American delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver.

It will be Stilwell’s first trip to Southeast Asia, as he was only appointed to his post last month. He previously served in the US Air Force, retiring in 2015 with the rank of brigadier general as the Asia advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Joining the US delegation are Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Joseph Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Hugo Yon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Jorgan Andrews and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Mark Clark.

Meanwhile, Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto said the Army is open to procuring big guns and helicopters from Russia as part of a modernization program. The country gets its defense and weapons requirements mainly from the US.

“We have plans of buying big guns, but you know there are processes that should be followed. If they (Russia) will participate and win in the bidding, then we will acquire (their artilleries) and we will select the best,” Macairog said on the sidelines of the ceremonies installing Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos as the new commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Tanay, Rizal Friday afternoon.

Alberto emphasized such acquisition projects should be in accordance with the government’s procurement process.

The Army chief, who was in Moscow last week for a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart, described Russia’s heavy weapons as among the best in the world.

“As regards to military tanks, we have an immediate plan for its procurement but it’s not Russia because Russian tanks are bigger and heavier in tonnage and are not suited for our terrain, especially our roads and bridges,” Macairog said.

But Macairog said Russia is a possible supplier of military helicopters for the newly reorganized Aviation Battalion.

While acquisition of military helicopters is normally the responsibility of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), he said the Army can make its own acquisition based on specific requirements.

“The Army will have its own helicopters for the Aviation Battalion, that’s our intention,” Macairog said

He also revealed plans for enhanced interaction between the Philippine and Russian armies.

“If there is an opportunity to engage other armed forces to include Russia, we will engage them because now we have a problem on terrorism and terrorism is a global problem,” Macairog said.

The Philippine Navy (PN), for its part, is sending one of its warships with a crew of 300 to Russia to take part in a naval parade in the waters off the port of city of Vladivostok for the Russian Navy Day celebration.

Capt. Jonathan Zata, Navy spokesman, said BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602) will leave Manila’s South Harbor Pier 13 tomorrow for the 10-day voyage to Russia.

The Navy’s second Strategic Sealift Vessel will be escorted by more than four Japanese coast guard and Chinese Coast Guard ships once it enters the East China Sea.

Japan and China are locked in a maritime dispute over the Senkaku Island Groups located at the southernmost waters of Japan.

China has established an Air Defense Identification Zone over the area but most foreign countries, specifically Japan and the United States, simply ignore warnings.

“The Philippine Navy will render a send-off ceremony for the 300-man contingent aboard BRP Davao del Sur with one helicopter detachment afloat,” Zata said.

In October last year, the BRP Tarlac (LD601) became the first Philippine Navy ship to visit the home base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok. – With Jaime Laude

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