Philippines, United States defense chiefs reaffirm to strengthen security pact

US Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Philippine Department of National Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr. holds a media briefing after their bilateral talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. (Photo: Department of National Defense - Philippines/Facebook)
US Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Philippine Department of National Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr. holds a media briefing after their bilateral talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. (Photo: Department of National Defense - Philippines/Facebook)

The defense chiefs of the Philippines and the United States (US) discussed, and reaffirmed, their commitments to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), in a meeting at the US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday (September 29, GMT-10).

In a joint media briefing, Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. and US Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin III highlighted the MDT as one of the pillars of the PH-US bilateral relations, and that the two countries “are working together to reach a common understanding of the importance of our defense alliance and what it means to recognize each other as equal partners in advancing our respective countries’ interests and in promoting peace and prosperity in the region.”

“The bilateral meeting we held this afternoon was a welcome opportunity to discuss the way ahead for the Philippines-US alliance, based on the current priorities of our respective administrations, as discussed during the recent meeting between Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and US President Joseph R. Biden [Jr.] in New York,” Faustino said.

On the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Marcos and President Biden reaffirmed the two country’s “ironclad commitment,” with Biden promising that the US would defend the Philippines if attacked by a foreign aggressor.

“President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines,” the White House said.

Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the US is obligated to defend one of its oldest allies in Southeast Asia if attacked.

Meanwhile, Austin said that the Philippines can depend on the US to “defend its sovereignty, ensure prosperity for its people and strengthen security in the region.”

The many treatises and agreements between the two countries, including military exercises, he said, show the deep and profound commitment of the two countries to each other.

“We fought together, we trained together … We are allies, … but we consider ourselves to be more family than anything else. And I’m proud to say … that I cannot imagine a day where the United States and the Philippines aren’t allies. It is who we are,” Austin said.

“By deepening and modernizing our alliances, we can help secure the Philippines’ future, tackle regional challenges and promote peace and security in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday while touring the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea that she will visit the Philippines later this year.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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