US reaffirms strong defense ties with PH
MANILA – The United States Navy has reaffirmed its strong partnership and defense ties with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amid tension in the South China Sea.
Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, made the commitment when he visited the Philippines on June 11-14, 2017.
During his visit, Swift met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Defense Secretary Defense Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, and Philippine Navy Flag Officer in-Command Vice Admiral Ronald J.S. Mercado.
Swift stressed the US Pacific Fleet’s commitment to addressing shared regional security concerns including counterterrorism and piracy while highlighting the strong defense ties between the US and the Philippines.
“The Philippine Navy is a valued and enduring ally of the US Navy and a close partner of the Pacific Fleet,” said Swift.
“I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit with senior government and military leaders here in Manila. We continue to build on the strong relationship we have and to reaffirm our commitment to working together to face shared challenges.”
Swift said the long-standing alliance between the Philippines and the US has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years.
“As part of the security partnership, the United States supports the Philippines in its efforts to strengthen national defense, and improve its ability to respond to natural disasters, terror threats, piracy, and other transnational crimes, ” Swift said.
In June this year, US Navy combat ship USS Coronado joined a Philippine Navy frigate, BRP Alcaraz, in a joint naval patrol in Southern Philippines to battle terrorism and piracy in the region.
“Our at-sea operations with the Philippine Navy demonstrate our commitment to the alliance and deter piracy and illegal activities,” US Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson said.
The US embassy said the joint naval patrols were held at the invitation of the Philippine military. The exercise, however, was limited to Philippine waters as President Rodrigo Duterte strictly prohibited joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea.
The Philippines also held joint naval patrols in southern waters with Indonesia and Malaysia. The country has also improved naval ties with Vietnam.