United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday promised to help the Philippines modernize its defense capabilities as well as increase the interoperability of American and Filipino military forces.
“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,” Austin said in his opening remarks prior to his meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Malacañang.
“So we are very, very happy to be here once again and I look forward to a great discussion with you, Mr. President,” the US defense chief said.
In a separate remark, President Marcos said he sees 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.
“And again, 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 simply because those partnerships are so strong and so historically embedded in our common psyches that can only be an advantage to both our countries,” the President said.
“So thank you once again for coming to visit with us and to give us the opportunity to discuss with you and through you, the American government, our own outlook on this situation as it stands at the present,” Marcos added.
President Marcos thanked the US defense chief for visiting the Philippines amid a “very complicated situation” in the region to exchange some ideas, thoughts and information with him on the current situation in the Asia-Pacific.
The Philippines, Marcos said, can 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… all partnerships and alliances that we are able to make with our friends around the world,” the chief executive said. #