MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana acknowledged Australia's right to improve its submarine defense capability.
This came as Lorenzana and Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton engaged in a telephone conversation on Friday.
"The call marks the first bilateral engagement between the two defense ministers since Minister Dutton assumed his position as Australia’s Minister for Defence in 2021," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.
During the phone call, Dutton informed his Filipino counterpart about the recent announcements made by Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) on their trilateral pact, referred to as the AUKUS alliance, and his nation's acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
The Australian defense chief also conveyed that Canberra is concerned about the peace and stability in the region and that the intention to acquire submarines is to develop his country's capability to protect its territories as well as that of its friends in the region.
He also clarified that while the submarines will be nuclear-powered, they will not be armed with nuclear weapons.
Dutton also underscored that Australia wants to be seen as a neighbor that promotes regional peace.
Lorenzana acknowledged Australia’s right to improve its submarine defense capability and highlighted that, as a country strategically situated in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is also building its own capability to protect its territories.
He remarked that the Philippines would like to maintain its good bilateral defense relations with all countries in the region.
Lorenzana also expressed hope to personally meet Dutton soon. (PNA)