PH, US to strengthen diplomatic ties, defense alliance

Published September 11, 2021, 11:17 AM

by Raymund Antonio

The Philippines and the United States affirmed their commitment to strengthen diplomatic and defense alliance as they marked the 75 years of diplomatic relations and 70 years of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) this year, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. on September 9, 2021 to reaffirm the long-standing alliance and partnership between the Philippines and the US. (PH Embassy in Washington, DC)

During a recent meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed their countries’ “alliance and partnership” in the bilateral and defense front.

“We want to ramp up our bilateral engagement to ensure that our alliance remains strong and resilient,” Locsin said.

In particular, Locsin highlighted the importance of the MDT, saying that the Philippines needs it “to enhance its defense capabilities to keep its treaty commitments.”

The two officials also discussed the strengthening of the defense capabilities of the Philippines.

READ: Duterte keeps VFA after getting ‘clarity’ on US commitment to defense treaty

President Duterte ordered last year the cancellation of the VFA, which simplified access procedures for US service members on official business to the Philippines after Washington revoked the US visa of his top ally, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

Duterte then recalled the termination of the VFA after the United States donated six million doses of Janssen and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

READ: ‘Give and take’: VFA retention a ‘concession’ after US vaccine donation, Duterte admits

Aside from the commemoration of the two countries’ diplomatic ties, Locsin and Blinken also talked about holding the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) in November and the 2 Plus 2 Ministerial Dialogue in early 2022.

According to the statement from the Philippine Embassy in Washington, the BSD “is a key mechanism for consultation and exchange of views on a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues, and discussion on political, security, and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.”

The 2 Plus 2 Ministerial Dialogue, on the other hand, is a joint meeting between the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers.

Locsin was with Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and top foreign affairs officials in his first in-person meeting with Blinken since the Biden administration assumed office in January this year.