CONTRARY to what President Rodrigo Duterte had announced last year, additional joint military exercises between the Philippines and American troops are still to be expected.
In his bilateral meeting between with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila United States President Donald Trump affirmed to continue providing support and assistance to the Philippines in its fight against terrorism.
In a joint statement, the Philippines and the US committed to enhance their counterterrorism cooperation through additional exercises, increased information sharing, and by addressing the drivers of conflict and extremism.
Trump expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of life in Marawi City at the hands of ISIS-affiliated terrorists, and congratulated the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its success in liberating Marawi.
He also vowed to assist in the rehabilitation of the ravaged city.
“Both sides discussed the rehabilitation and reconstruction needs of Marawi and pledged to continue discussions for the rebuilding of Marawi,” the statement said.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, as reinforced by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
They discussed proposals to support the United States’ efforts to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, develop capacity and capability for maritime security and domain awareness, and provide rapid humanitarian assistance.
“They also reaffirmed their commitment to continue defense cooperation, including by reinforcing respective national defense capabilities and interoperability and enhancing joint activities, disaster response, and cybersecurity.”
Both leaders praised the enduring U.S.-Philippines Alliance, built on a strong foundation of shared values, sacrifices, and history, and bolstered by common interests and people-to-people ties, and full respect for legal and diplomatic processes.
“They pledged to expand cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the bilateral alliance, a 70-year partnership that has stood the test of time, which ensures both countries’ mutual security and contributes to regional peace, stability, and economic prosperity.”
Last year, Duterte, in a speech before the Filipino community in Vietnam said he wanted an end to the Philippines’ joint military exercises with the US.
“You are scheduled to hold war games again, which China does not want. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines, the US, the last one.” However, the President said he will continue to uphold the Philippines’ treaties with the US.
Aside from the Mutual Defense Act of 1951, the Philippines and the US also have a Visiting Forces Agreement that covers the conduct of joint military exercises in the archipelago.