PH, India to expand military cooperation, exchanges

At a glance

  • Photo taken during National Defense chief Carlito Galvez and Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran's recent meeting. (Photo courtesy of DND)

The Philippines and India have agreed to expand security engagements and implement military exchanges as defense officials of both countries met to discuss mutual interests and the rule of law in the volatile Indo-Pacific.

The recent talk came after Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran called on Department of National Defense (DND) chief Carlito Galvez Jr. for "substantive discussions" to ensure a stable Indo-Pacific.

In New Delhi, DND Assistant Secretary Pablo Lorenzo met with Indian Ministry of Defense Joint Secretary Shri Amitabh Prasad on March 31 for a separate discussion that reviewed the ongoing bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries.

They also "discussed effective and practical initiatives to further expand the engagements," according to the Indian defense ministry.

More notably, the two officials reaffirmed the Philippines and India's commitment to implement the 2006 agreement concerning defense cooperation—signed during former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam's visit to Manila—which included the exchange of air force planes, navy ships and military instructors—the same thing Kumaran and Galvez discussed during their earlier meeting.

Amid the geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific among world's superpowers and their allies, Galvez and Prasad agreed the partnership must be based on mutual trust and understanding as well as common interest and shared values of democracy and rule of law.

With India supportive of the Philippines' fight for the West Philippine Sea, the two officials also talked about cooperation in multilateral forms and shared with each other the approaches to the Indo-Pacific region.

They decided to hold regular consultations on issues of mutual interest, the defense ministry added.

"Both sides agreed to initiate measures to enhance cooperation in Defence Industry and Technology domain and look forward to greater synergy in effectively deepening bilateral cooperative engagements across the spectrum," it added.