TOP Filipino and American military and police officials meet today in Honolulu, Hawaii, for a strategic dialogue on the two countries’ mutual security concerns as provided for under the 60-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between Manila and Washington.
Leading the Philippine delegation are Chief of Staff Gen. Eduard Oban Jr. of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Director General Raul Bacalzo of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Their American counterparts are headed by Admiral Robert Willard, the commander of the US Pacific Command (USPACOM).
Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., the chief of the AFP’s Public Affairs Office, on Sunday disclosed that the two-day Philippine-United States Mutual Defense Board meeting will revolve around traditional and non-traditional security issues that include mutual defense, maritime security, combating terrorism, Philippine defense reform, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, civil-military operations, global peace operations initiative, transnational crimes and cyber security.
A“Both parties will seek to map out the direction of a bilateral defense partnership to sustain dynamism and growth of the Philippines and United States’ alliance and develop ways to ensure the continuing stability of a long-standing strategic alliance,” Burgos said.
The meeting in Honolulu, he added, is “an affirmation of the long-standing defense cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.”
“It demonstrates that the partnership between the two countries remains robust, dynamic and beneficial to both parties, and underscores the unrelenting commitment of both countries toward a more secure Asia-Pacific region,” Burgos said.
In July, Oban and Willard met shortly after President Benigno Aquino 3rd asserted Philippine sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours,” the President said.