PHL top officials, US military commanders reaffirm US-PHL alliance

The Philippines and the United States have reaffirmed their firm resolve to bolster their enduring alliance anchored on common values and interest, historic ties and the Mutual Defense Treaty, in high-level discussions in Honolulu, the Department of Foreign Affairs said today.

In a statement, the DFA said the high-level delegation led by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea had productive discussions on critical regional and international issues with US Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. and the commanders of all PACOM service components.

“The Philippine Delegation had a very substantive exchange with Admiral Harris on regional challenges and both sides agreed that the alliance remains consequential to the preservation of regional stability and development,” the DFA said.

The meeting was also participated in by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Interior and Local Government OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr.

On the South China Sea, the DFA said the Philippine Delegation underscored that the deliberate and nuanced diplomacy by the Duterte Administration had lowered tensions in the region and resulted in clear economic gains for the Philippines in terms of access to marine resources, protection of the marine ecology, and the potential to explore oil and gas resources.

The DFA said Admiral Harris congratulated the Philippines on the decisive victory in Marawi, and the Philippine Delegation expressed gratitude for the Washington’s strong support in this effort, which was instrumental in the successful campaign. Both sides agreed on the need to work more closely together, including in the exchange of information, in the fight against terrorism and in countering violent extremism.

Admiral Harry Harris has led the PACOM since May 2015 and has actively worked to strengthen Philippine-US security relations including through his role as the co-chair of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board. Following his retirement in June, the White House announced his appointment as the next US Ambassador to South Korea.

For his role in promoting Philippine-US defense cooperation, the Admiral was recently conferred the Philippine Legion of Honor, the order of defense merit of the Philippines. DFA