Australian Defense Minister Reynolds meets Secretary Lorenzana
MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana welcomed Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds on her first visit to the Philippines yesterday. The bilateral meeting was held at the Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base coming at the heels of their meeting at the sidelines of the 6th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus in Thailand in November 2019 and their virtual meeting last May 2020.
The bilateral meeting focused in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) where Defense Secretary Lorenzana expressed appreciation for Australia’s $1 million support for the expansion of the infectious diseases ward at the Victoriano Luna Medical Center and the donation of $2 million in medical and personal protective equipment that will capacitate hospitals under the AFP Health Service Command.
In a statement released Friday morning, it was learned the support forms part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program which reinforced the defense cooperation between the two countries after Australia donated to the Philippines’ counter-terrorism efforts.
Both officials expressed satisfaction that the Philippines and Australia have sustained and enhanced the defense relations amid the pandemic through the virtual conduct of defense and military dialogue.
They agreed to prepare for the activities involving the Philippines and Australia next year and such activities will be organized once conditions allow, depending on the approval of Philippine and Australian authorities.
Secretary Lorenzana reaffirmed support for Australia’s co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group (EWG) on Military Medicine with Brunei Darussalam. He also expressed appreciation for Australia’s support for ASEAN centrality and praised Australia’s 2020 Vision for Defense Engagements with ASEAN.
Both officials exchanged views on developments in the region and agreed on the significance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and the compliance with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Health protocols from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (AITF-EID) were complied with during the visit.
Australia is part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue founded in November 2017 with the United States, Japan and India involved in information exchanges and military exercises. (Melo M. Acuña)
Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds accorded arrival honors at J. Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. She met Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana yesterday and held bilateral meeting on common interests in regional and international issues. (DND Supplied Photos)