US, Philippines defense leaders discuss strengthening MDT, maritime cooperation

US, Philippines defense leaders discuss strengthening MDT, maritime cooperation
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Jose C. Faustino Jr., officer in charge of the Philippine Department of National Defense, address the media at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, Sept. 29, 2022.
Chad J. McNeeley, DOD

MANILA, Philippines — Priority areas for the alliance of the Philippines and the United States included strengthening mutual defense treaty commitments, and enhancing maritime cooperation, the top defense officials of the two countries said Friday.

Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., officer-in-charge of the Department of National Defense, and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met at Camp Smith in Hawaii to discuss ways to deepen the cooperation between Manila and Washington.

“We discussed several priority areas for the alliance including strengthening our mutual defense treaty commitments and enhancing maritime cooperation, building on our mutual defense posture, and improving interoperability and information sharing,” Austin said.

“By deepening our cooperation and modernizing our alliance, we can help secure the Philippines’ future, tackle regional challenges, and promote peace and security in the Indo Pacific,” he added.

Under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the two countries recognized that “an armed attack in the Pacific on either of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declared that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

According to Faustino, officials from the two countries tackled “forward-looking, practical, and tangible ways on how to empower our partnership to improve defense cooperation across various lines of effort […] with the end view of further enhancing the credibility of our alliance.”

When asked if Manila would help Washington in defending Taiwan in case of Chinese aggression, Faustino said the Philippines adheres to the One China Policy.

“We urge all concerned parties to exercise restraint, and diplomacy and dialogue must prevail,” the former military chief said.

“We continue to update and enhance our contingency plans. It is also imperative to regularly update and exercise the Philippines-US mutual defense concept plan under the ambit of the MDT based on our dynamic security environment,” he added. — Gaea Katreena Cabico




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