PH, South Korean navies meet online on COVID-19 response, maritime operational capability

The Philippine Navy hosted on Thursday a virtual defense meeting with its South Korean counterpart in a bid to improve its operational capability amid the Philippine government’s efforts to upgrade its sea assets.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Cdr. Maria Christina Roxas said the discussion was held between their Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for Operations, Capt. Jempsun de Guzman and Capt. Lee Han Dong, Head International Cooperation Branch of the Republic of Korea Navy.
She said the discussion is the first between the two naval forces.
“This year’s talks focused on the sharing of best practices between the two navies in defense against the global pandemic while maintaining maritime operational capability,” said Roxas.
“Despite the current pandemic, both navies proceeded with the talks, taking it as an opportunity to explore technologies to continue and deepen their bilateral relationship and diplomatic ties,” he added.
Some of the Philippine Navy’s new warships were made in South Korea, which were ordered and approved during the past administration following the standoff between the Philippine Navy and the Chinese’s Coast Guard ship near the Scarborough Shoal when the former intercepted illegal Chinese poachers.
The incident did not only lead to the aggressive modernization of the Philippine military, which included the purchase of 12 fighter jets also from South Korea, but also prompted the Philippine government to file a case against China.
The Philippine government won but the International Tribunal's favorable ruling for the Philippines was set aside by the Duterte administration in favor of good relationship with China.
Roxas said the first-ever Navy-to-Navy Talk between the Philippines and South Korea was held under the Terms of Reference (TOR) signed by both parties in 2019.
One of the specifics under the TOR is the conduct of biennial Navy talks which provide a forum for regular dialogue and information exchange between the two navies to discuss matters of common importance and to promote mutual interests.