Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DND chief cites need for credible PHL-US defense posture

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): DND chief cites need for credible PHL-US defense posture

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said there is a need for the Philippines and the United States to create a credible defense posture and enhance the interoperability of both military forces.

He made this statement during the Philippine-US 2+2 ministerial meeting held in Washington D.C. Tuesday night (Philippine time).

Gazmin said that the US and the Philippines share common security concerns including territorial and maritime disputes, emphasizing that working together to address them would bring peace in the region.

“While we grapple with nontraditional security concerns and natural man-made disasters, traditional security challenges, to include territorial and maritime disputes, remain to be fundamental concerns,” he said.

“Given this strategic context, we should be in a position to address such common concerns, as well as contribute to regional peace and stability,” the DND chief added.

Gazmin stressed the Philippines is looking forward in deepening its strategic partnership with the US to ensure that an "effective alliance that is responsive to the challenges of the 21st century."

Gazmin added this year's meeting is a manifestation of the strong state of Philippine and American allegiance.

"We have come a long way since we signed the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, and our frameworks of cooperation continue to evolve, from the Visiting Forces Agreement to Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2014," the DND chief stressed.

In a 10-4-1 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court declared the EDCA constitutional.

It also upheld the position of the government that the latter is an executive agreement and does not need the Senate concurrence.

Finalized after eight rounds of talks that began in August 2013, EDCA, which was signed in 2014, allows US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.

"Our mechanisms likewise continue to develop, from the Mutual Defense Board launch in 1958 to Security Engagement Board of 2006 and to the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue of 2011. Our bilateral exercises, such as Balikatan, remain useful. Indeed, our security partnership continues to be strong," the DND chief added.

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