AFP, JUSMAG PHL tackle EEZ response in talks

The talks between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG)-Philippines on Monday focused on how the two militaries can respond to situations or events in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The discussions centered on how the Philippine and the United States armed forces can manage and respond to the situation in the Philippine EEZ,” said AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a statement sent to reporters.

Arevalo was responding to questions regarding updates on the meeting of AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, and JUSMAG-Philippines chief, Col. Stephen Ma.

Arevalo said the meeting between the two officials was “a fruitful engagement”.

He added that both parties agreed to have subsequent meetings, he added.

On Sunday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III held a telephone conversation where they discussed the situation in the West Philippine Sea and recent developments in regional security.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Lorenzana and Austin are looking forward to the conduct of Exercise “Balikatan” which was canceled last year due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Austin reiterated the importance of the Visiting Forces Agreement and hopes that it would be continued.

“Secretary Lorenzana committed to discussing the matter with the President as the final approval lies with him,” Andolong said in a statement.

Lorenzana likewise sought Austin’s assistance to expedite the delivery of the Moderna vaccines the country has ordered.

“To which, Secretary Austin replied that he would look into the issue and bring it to the attention of the office concerned,” Andolong added. PNA.GOV.PH