Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana hosted newly appointed United States Charge d’Affaires to the Philippines Heather Variava at the DND Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday, September 28.
Lorenzana and Vairava discussed the developments on the two countries’ bilateral defense relations during the introductory meeting, two months after President Duterte ordered the recall of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in July.
“Both sides exchanged views on recent developments in the region, and covered discussions on how to further enhance the cooperation between the Philippines and the US,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong on Tuesday night.
“They also discussed updates on upcoming bilateral defense activities, logistics cooperation, particularly on the capability upgrades of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the way ahead for the Philippines-US defense relations,” he added.
According to Andolong, Lorenzana and Variava reaffirmed both sides’ commitment to the Philippines-US alliance through the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the 1951 accord which states that both countries shall defend each other in case of an armed attack by an external country.
Variava, who has been the US Charge d’Affaires since early this month, emphasized that both countries “enjoy deep and longstanding bonds, with the alliance at the center of the US’ relationship with the Philippines.”
Meanwhile, Lorenzana expressed gratitude to the US government for its support to the Philippines in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic especially in the continuous delivery of the life-saving vaccines.
The meeting was the Defense Chief’s first official face-to-face engagement after completing his 14-day mandatory quarantine from his official travel to the US earlier this month.
It can be recalled that Lorenzana visited Pentagon in the US on September 10 to bolster the country’s defense ties with Washington.