Sat. Jul 24th, 2021

MANILA – The Philippines’ defense ties with its allies remain strong amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

This after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana conducted teleconferences with his counterparts from Japan, China and Australia to discuss various concerns affecting their respective countries, including Covid-19.

In a statement late Monday, Lorenzana said he had a teleconference with Japan Defense Minister Taro Kono on May 12 where they exchanged experiences and best practices in addressing Covid-19 including measures undertaken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF).

The two defense chiefs also discussed the security situation in the region, namely in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, as well as ways on how to further enhance bilateral defense cooperation based on common goals of peace, security, and growth in the region.

On May 21, Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds also informed Lorenzana of her government’s plan on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program (E-DCP), to support the procurement of hospital equipment amounting to 1 million Australian dollars for a 30-bed expansion of the Victoriano Luna Medical Center infectious disease ward.

“We are very thankful for this assistance to the V. Luna Medical Center, Madame Minister, and we hope to see its completion in the near future so that we can use it for the purpose it was being built,” Lorenzana said.

Reynolds also conveyed her gratitude for the Philippine government’s support in evacuating Australians from the Philippines and commended the leadership in implementing the National Action Plan against Covid-19.

Both Lorenzana and Reynolds also discussed security matters that include terrorism and overall regional security.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana, during his May 20 “phone call” meeting with State Councilor and Defense Minister of the People’s Republic of China, General Wei Fenghe, expressed gratitude for Beijing’s donation of medical supplies and equipment worth 2 million renminbi that was turned over on May 12.

Both sides committed to sustain dialogues amid the pandemic and strengthen cooperation between the two defense establishments in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of Philippines-China diplomatic relations this year. (ia/PNA)

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