Australian Ambassador to Manila Steven J. Robinson AO on Wednesday hailed the finalization of the Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement with the Philippines as an “important step” to address regional security challenges.
“This important step will make it easier for Australia and the Philippines to work together to address regional security challenges,” Robinson said in a statement, adding that the arrangement will further deepen longstanding defense relations between the two countries.
The pact, according to the Australian envoy, “provides a solid framework for the Philippines and Australia’s defense organizations to conduct more complex engagement, and enhance interoperability in practical ways”.
“As Australia and the Philippines face a rapidly evolving strategic environment, seeking new opportunities like this is increasingly important for deepening defense engagement,” he said.
Robinson cited the benefits of the arrangements in easing cooperation when it comes to responding to natural calamities and humanitarian disasters, and in promoting the shared vision for a “peaceful, inclusive and resilient region of sovereign states.”
“Australia looks forward to fostering the mateship and bayanihan that underpins our defense cooperation as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year,” the top Australian diplomat in Manila said.
In retrospect, Australia and the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperative Defense Activities on August 22, 1995 that laid the foundation for the Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC) to provide policy direction, coordinate and monitor MOU activities.
In September 2012, a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) was signed to provide a comprehensive legal and operational framework for defense cooperation.
It was acknowledged that the SOVFA was instrumental in 2013 during Operation Philippine Assist, Australia’s response to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) to facilitate the rapid deployment of medical assistance, humanitarian and reconstruction support involving over 500 service personnel, numerous aircraft and the Landing Ship Heavy HMAS Tobruk.