Stronger PH-UK defense ties eyed; 2 British OPVs seen permanently maintained in SE Asia

Published October 11, 2021, 11:58 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippines and United Kingdom (UK) look to strengthen their defense cooperation to ensure peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, the Department of National Defense (DND) disclosed Monday, Oct. 11.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Photo courtesy of Department of National Defense)
Unitedn Kongdom Minister for Asia Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling (Photo courtesy of UK government website)

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana hosted Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling, UK Minister for Asia, at the DND Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last Friday during the latter’s first visit to Manila.

The two ministers discussed developments in bilateral defense cooperation between the Philippines and UK which is being implemented under a 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Among those tackled was UK’s intention of permanently maintaining two offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) in Southeast Asia amid a tense and volatile situation in the South China Sea.

“On regional security, Minister Milling conveyed the UK’s intent to maintain two offshore patrol vessels permanently in Southeast Asia as a demonstration of its long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific region,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.

The Philippines has overlapping claims in the South China Sea with other nations, mainly China, specifically the areas within its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) called the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Also raised during Lorenzana and Milling’s meeting was the trilateral security partnership of Australia, UK, and United States (AUKUS) which aims to “support Australia’s capability development to contribute to security in the region.”

The UK minister then provided updates on the contract implementation of defense acquisition projects between the Philippines and UK as both sides reaffirmed their intent to exchange resident defense attaches to increase their cooperative engagements, Andolong noted.

The two ministers also recalled the outcomes of the 2nd Philippines-UK Joint Defense Cooperation (JDC) Meeting last June 24 via virtual teleconference.

The top-level meeting was made possible after UK was granted the status of ASEAN Dialogue Partner in August 2021.

Milling was accompanied by Amb. Laure Beaufils, Private Secretary Maude Pemberton, Indo-Pacific Director Joelle Jenny, and Political Counsellor Rebecca Shah during the meeting with Lorenzana.