From GMA News (Nov 22): PHL, US military officials assure continuous, robust relations
Philippine and US military officials on Tuesday assured the public of a continuous and robust relations between the two countries following their meeting earlier in the day.
The Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) met on November 22 at the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The board was jointly presided by co-chairs General Ricardo R. Visaya, AFP Chief of Staff, and Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, US Pacific Command. They were joined and supported by various standing committees and participating agencies of both governments.
The successful completion of the MDB-SEB ensures continued, robust relations between the US and Philippine militaries, according to a joint press statement read by Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief.
It said this highlights the enduring commitment of both countries to the US-Philippine alliance.
“We look forward to continued, close cooperation in areas central to both our national and security interests including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, cyber security, and maritime security,” it said.
In an interview with reporters, Arevalo said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was discussed but no new issues came up.
“It was part of the discussion and nothing new has been discussed except those that have been released already earlier,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the joint military training will not focus on civic action, and humanitarian and disaster response.
He said he recommended putting “more weight on civic action and engineering projects to benefit a number of civilian communities and the strengthening of the Self-Reliant Defense Program.”
He said Duterte has also given a go-signal for the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), an executive agreement between the Philippines and the US to advance the implementation of the Mutual Defense Agreement signed in 1951.
He said the President ordered to discontinue assault exercises and some bilateral drills between both forces such as Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) and the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).