Lorenzana, new SoKor counterpart share views on South China Sea amid China's fishing ban

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with newly-appointed South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup during an official visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Friday, June 3.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) meets Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup (right) in Seoul, South Korea on June 3, 2022. (Photo courtesy of DND)

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Lorenzana and Lee, who was appointed last May 10, exchanged views on the situation in the South China Sea where the Philippines has overlapping territorial claims with China and other claimant-countries.

According to Andolong, the two ministers “reaffirmed that freedom of navigation and overflight as well as the respect for international law must be upheld at all times.”

This came as China imposed a summer fishing moratorium in South China Sea from May 1 to August 16, a move that has been protested by the Philippines since it said the ban covers parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Aside from this, Lorenzana also aired his views on the security situation in the Korean Peninsula.

“Secretary Lorenzana also expressed the DND's support for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea,” Andolong noted.

Aside from this, both ministers also discussed the strengthening of the Philippines’ and South Korea’s bilateral defense cooperation even as Lorenzana is about to step down from office by the end of this month along with the change of administration.

The officials also exchanged pleasantries and acknowledged the “close ties” between the Philippines and ROK defense and military establishments, particularly in the area of defense industry and logistics cooperation.

South Korea has been instrumental in the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as it supplied some of the modern equipment that the Philippine military acquired in the past six years, including its two Jose Rizal-class frigates and the corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).

Meanwhile, Lorenzana also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Minister Park Minshik, of the ROK Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs, in Seoul, South Korea to further deepen the two countries’ veterans cooperation.