PH, Australia fortify logistics, defense cooperation

The Philippines and Australia have established a more robust relationship in terms of defense and logistics, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Wednesday, June 22.

Department of National Defense Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong (File photo)

Such endeavour was achieved as the DND hosted the 21st Philippines-Australia Defence Cooperation Working Group (DCWG) in Makati City from June 15 to 17.

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the DCWG meeting was the first in-person bilateral dialogue hosted by the defense department since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“Held annually, the DCWG is the working-level dialogue mechanism between the DND and DoD where the activities for the next cycle year are deliberated on. During the DCWG Meeting, the DND Bureaus presented their proposed engagements and highlighted key activities and new initiatives,” Andolong said.

“The Philippine and Australian delegations also welcomed the prospects of logistics and defense industry collaboration in the future and further enhancing multilateral cooperation with the Philippine side expressing appreciation for Australia’s continued support for ASEAN centrality and active engagement through the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus,” he added.

During the DCWG meeting, both countries discussed the implementation of the Philippines-Australia Arrangement on the Provision of Mutual Logistic Support (MLSA). It was attended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (OJ4, AFP) and the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Logistics Command (JLC, ADF).

The MLSA, signed in 2021, is a framework agreement that allows the provision of logistics support during the conduct of exercises, trainings, deployments, humanitarian assistance and disaster response HADR), and other exigencies as mutually determined by both countries.

The DND and Australian defense teams also reviewed the annual Philippines-Australia Defense Engagement Plan (DEP) that was co-chaired by the DND’s Office of Strategic Assessment and International Affairs (DND-OSAIA) and the Australian Department of Defence’s International Policy Division (DoD-IPD).

“The said DEP outlines Philippines-Australia defense engagements for the upcoming cycle and will be submitted to Philippine and Australian authorities by the DCWG through the Philippines-Australia Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC),” Andolong said.

Following the meetings, the Australian delegation paid a courtesy call on DND Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessments and International Affairs Teodoro Cirilo T. Torralba III, with both sides reaffirming commitment “to further develop Philippines-Australia defense relations.”

“While the past two years of virtual meetings had been productive, nothing can replace in-person engagements,” Torralba said.

The DCWG Meeting was co-chaired by Director Marita I. Yoro, of the DND-OSAIA, and Director Stephen Broadbent, of the IPD Philippines and Malaysia.