The military cooperation between the Philippines and Brunei remains strong despite the postponement of several engagements due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy (PN), made the assurance Tuesday as he met with Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) Chief, First Adm. Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Othman bin Haji Suhaili in a virtual conference.
“We would like to assure you that in spite of us not seeing each other face to face or physically, the PN and RBN have all the friendship, trust and confidence (that) goes on and the relationship is very strong,” Bacordo told Suhaili.
During the virtual meeting, Bacordo and Suhaili discussed the upcoming ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting in November 2020, and the maritime training activity dubbed as SEAGULL which was postponed this year but is intended to push through by 2021.
They also tackled both navies’ roles in helping the respective governments mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise in Hawaii in August which they participated in.
RBN’s offshore patrol vessel KDB Darulehsan (OPV07) sailed together with the PN’s BRP Jose Rizal and a US navy ship from Hawaii to Guam after the RIMPAC.
For his part, Suhaili pledged a stronger relationship with the PN “from this point forward.”
Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting director of the naval public affairs office, said the virtual meeting among leaders of neighboring navies has been the “new normal” in light of travel restrictions and enforcement of physical distancing amid the current health crisis.
“It just goes to show the unfaltering commitment and firm dedication of partner navies to strengthening ties and friendship toward stability and cooperation,” Roxas explained.