US pledges to boost AFP modernization

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has expressed commitment to helping the Philippines modernize its defense capabilities and increase the interoperability of American and Filipino military forces.

President 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. meets US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Malacañang, Feb. 2, 2023. (Malacañang photo)

Austin said this during his courtesy call on President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in Malacañang on Thursday, Feb. 2.

"From defense perspective, we will continue to work together with our great partners and to build and modernize your capabilities as well as increase our interoperability," the US senior official told Marcos.

"So we are very, very happy to be here once again, and I look forward to a great discussion with you, Mr. President," he added.

In his remarks, President Marcos noted that the future of the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific tied up with the United States because of the Philippines' and the region's strong and historic partnership with the US.

"I have always said that it seems to me that the future of the Philippines and, for that matter, the Asia Pacific will always have to involve the United States," he said.

"Those partnerships are so strong and so historically embedded in our common psyches that can only be an advantage to both our countries," he added.

President Marcos thanked Austin for visiting the Philippines amid a "very complicated situation" in the region to exchange ideas, thoughts, and information.

He added that the Philippines could only navigate properly in this environment with the help of its partners and allies in the international sphere.

"As we traverse these rather troubled waters -- geopolitical waters, the economic waters -- that we are facing, I again put great importance on that partnerships, specifically with the United States," Marcos said.

"All partnerships and alliances that we are able to make with our friends around the world," he added.