Friday, December 14, 2012

PHL, US affirm military partnership, sign 5 TORs on cooperation

The Philippines and the United States affirmed their military partnership Thursday, with the US reiterating its desire to see a peaceful resolution to the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Jessie Dellosa and US Pacific Command commander Admiral Samuel James Locklear signed the five terms of reference in the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Board/Security Engagement Board (MDB/SEB) meetings which sought to further strengthen the ongoing partnership between the countries'

Locklear said a key  US concern in the Asia Pacific region was to ensure that freedom of navigation was always upheld in the area and to prevent the rise of extremist groups and criminals. He said the USPACOM was fully aware of the Philippines' dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea and that the US was also concerned over the dispute.

"US is concerned about anything that creates potential disruption to the security. We don’t take sides. It must be dealt with peacefully through the international forum to address...that's the only way," Locklear told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Locklear described the Philippines as a "cornerstone" of the alliances the US has with other countries.

"The Philippines is in the middle of the area (Pacific). It's a dynamic part of the world. The US only has seven treaty allies and
the Philippines is one of the cornerstones of these alliances so as we move forward we talk about how do we strengthen it and tom preserve the national interest of both parties," he added.

For his part, Dellosa said the meeting with Locklear was more about planning  future Balikatan exercises rather than discussing the West Philippine Sea dispute. However, Dellosa assured that there will only be a "minor change" in the Balikatan exercises next year and that there will be no increase in the number of US forces joining the military exercises here.

The five terms of reference signed by the US and Philippines militaries are: agreement to transfer the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the MDB to the SEB; designate the SEB to deal with non-traditional threats like piracy, cyber security, and disasters; create a technology and experimentation subcommittee on civil-military operations; create a humanitarian and disaster response working group; and activate a counter-terrorism working group.

Thursday's PH-US MDB/SEB meeting is the final meeting of the boards for the 2012 cycle after the Standing Committee Meetings and the Executive Committee Meeting. It covers a strategic dialogue between Dellosa and Locklear as co-chairs of the board on defense and security matters, and on the strengthening of their military ties.

The meetings are part of the regular consultations between the Philippines and the US under their treaty obligations pursuant to the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).-Interaksyon (December 13, 2012 5:03PM)

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