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Locsin supports new US-UK-Australia security alliance

Michael Punongbayan, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Locsin supports new US-UK-Australia security alliance
The AUKUS security partnership is expected to enable the three countries to “significantly deepen cooperation on a range of emerging security and defense capabilities,” according to a statement released by the Australian government this month.
Teodoro Locsin Jr. FB Page

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has expressed support for the enhanced trilateral security partnership of the US, the United Kingdom and Australia (AUKUS), even while the country ensures that the security alliance won’t violate the Philippine Constitution and an earlier agreement that aims to keep Southeast Asia free from nuclear weapons.

The AUKUS security partnership is expected to enable the three countries to “significantly deepen cooperation on a range of emerging security and defense capabilities,” according to a statement released by the Australian government this month.

Initial efforts under the partnership will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.

In supporting the alliance, Locsin said Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, singly and collectively, “do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia, discourage the sudden creation of crises therein and avoid disproportionate and hasty responses by rival great powers.”

According to Locsin, “the enhancement of a near abroad ally’s ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilize it.”

The first initiative under AUKUS is for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology.

Australian officials have said the three countries would focus on identifying the “optimal pathway” to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.

“Preliminarily, I can say that the President is the chief executor of our laws and the Constitution of the Philippines provides for a nuclear-free Philippines.

And we are also party to the ASEAN-Bangkok Accord providing for a nuclear-free Southeast Asia,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday at a press briefing.

“So I would say that the immediate concern of the Philippines is to ensure that its (Constitution) and its treaty providing for nuclear-free Southeast Asia will not be violated because of this accord,” he added.

Roque was referring to the Bangkok Treaty, an agreement signed by 10 Southeast Asian states in 1995 that supports the purposes of the ASEAN, including preserving the region as a nuclear weapon-free zone and free from all other weapons of mass destruction.

Roque, however, admitted that he has not spoken to President Duterte on the matter.

“But I will verify with the President his thoughts on this matter tonight,” he added.

Southeast Asian countries Malaysia and Indonesia have expressed concern that the AUKUS could lead to an arms race in the region.

TEODORO LOCSIN JR.
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