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Months after VFA restoration, Philippines agrees to hold over 300 military activities with US

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Months after VFA restoration, Philippines agrees to hold over 300 military activities with US
General Jose Faustino Jr, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (right) and Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (left) led the 2021 Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, October 14.
AFP PAO

MANILA, Philippines — A few months after President Rodrigo Duterte decided to fully restore the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, the two countries agreed to hold over 300 activities for the next year.

This decision came after the completion of the 2021 Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB), an annual defense and security cooperation meeting between the two allies.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. and US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) commander Adm. John Aquilino led the annual meeting on Thursday.

In a joint media release, the AFP and the US INDOPACOM said the meeting resulted in "ensuring continued, robust relations between the US and Philippine militaries."

Faustino said the Philippine military is privileged to to witness the advancing level cooperation and communication between the Philippine and US militaries.

"I am optimistic that our alliance will continue to be robust in view of new and emerging security challenges that confront our nations. After all, we share the same goal of keeping peace and stability in this region," Faustino said.

INDOPACOM's Aquilino also noted that the two countries have shared a "deep friendship" for more than 200 years.

"This friendship is based on values, to include upholding freedom for all people. The sanctity of freedom was the foundation of our alliance… and is still applicable today," Aquilino said.

In July, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that Duterte decided to recall his decision to abrogate the decades-old VFA following a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Lorenzana, however, had called for a "comprehensive review" on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty due to evolving "geopolitical realities."

“Much is to be desired in terms of the 70-year-old alliance, given what is happening in the South China Sea and beyond, not to mention the Philippines’ commitment to cultivate more balanced relations with other countries in the region,” Lorenzana said in September.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES US INDO-PACIFIC COMMAND US-PHILIPPINES TIES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 20, 2021 - 2:46pm

A thread of major developments in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States from January to December 2021. (Presidential photo/Joey Dalumpines and AFP/Angela Weiss)

October 20, 2021 - 2:46pm

US military service members on Tuesday delivered ICU beds and COVID-19 cold storage units wort P758,750 to the Palawan provincial government.

The donation was made in response to the request of the Palawan provincial government amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province, the US Embassy says in a media release.

“This donation will help the people of Palawan a lot by upgrading our ability to fight against the pandemic.  It comes at the perfect time due to the surge of new cases and will help us face this new challenge," Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office director Jeremias Alili says.

October 14, 2021 - 4:00pm

Following their annual defense cooperation meeting, Philippine and US military leaders have agreed to hold over 300 activities for next year.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. and US Indo-Pacific Command Commander Adm. John Aquilino's meeting resulted in "ensuring continued, robust relations between the US and Philippine militaries," the Philippine military says.

"I am optimistic that our alliance will continue to be robust in view of new and emerging security challenges that confront our nations. After all, we share the same goal of keeping peace and stability in this region," Faustino says.

October 11, 2021 - 10:01am

US President Joe Biden expresses his gratitude to the Filipino American community as the United States commemorates Filipino American History Month.

"Jill and I are proud to recognize Filipino American History Month. Filipino Americans are an essential part of our Nation’s strength, diversity, and history; a living reminder of the courage of immigrants, and a growing force in our civic movements and engagement," Biden says.

September 30, 2021 - 9:42am

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reveals that China tried to stop the review of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.

"The former Chinese ambassador came to me and said, 'Do not touch the Mutual Defense Treaty. Leave it as it is,'" Lorenzana says in an online forum.

September 21, 2021 - 12:05pm

The United States, in partnership with the WHO co-led COVAX facility, delivers an additional  2,582,190 doses of the?Pfizer-BioNTech?COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines.

The vaccines, delivered in separate shipments on September 19 and 20, were part of the 500 million doses of Pfizer the United States is making available for distribution through COVAX, the US Embassy in Manila says.

"As the largest donor to the COVAX facility, the United States has facilitated the delivery of more than 16 million vaccine doses to the Philippines via COVAX, including more than 9 million doses donated by the American people," the US Embassy says.

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