US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Manila on Tuesday night, joining other high ranking US government officials in back-to-back visits to the Philippines under the Marcos administration.
Austin was the third notable US official to come to the country. He followed US Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Manila in November last year, and State Secretary Antony Blinken, who also flew to the Philippines in July.
The three of them have the same agenda: to reaffirm the Western giant's military commitment to the Philippines and advance its interest in the Indo-Pacific region.
Austin's visit came on the heels of China's increased activities in the South China Sea—an area which the US sees to have a crucial role in its economy.
US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson welcomed Austin, who first went to South Korea, another US ally, as he returned for the second time in the country. "His visit shows the United States' ironclad commitment to our Philippine #FriendsPartnersAllies," Carlson said.
According to the Defense Department website, Austin's trip would allow him to reaffirm "the deep commitment of the United States to work in concert with allies and partners in support of the shared vision of preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific."
During his trip, Austin would meet with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his Filipino counterpart, Carlito Galvez Jr., said Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.