MANILA – The Philippines and Australia will pursue stronger collaboration in the fields of defense and logistics.

This, as the Department of National Defense (DND) hosted the 21st Philippines-Australia Defense Cooperation Working Group (DCWG) from June 15 to 17 in Makati City.

In a statement Wednesday, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the event is the first in-person bilateral dialogue hosted by the agency since the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020.

"A reception was held on June 15, 2022 to kickstart the activity, followed by the Inaugural Logistics Working Group (LWG) Meeting between the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (OJ4), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Joint Logistics Command (JLC), Australian Defence Force (ADF) on June 16, 2022, where they discussed the implementation of the Philippines-Australia Arrangement on the Provision of Mutual Logistic Support (MLSA) following its signing in 2021," he added.

Both the Philippine and Australian delegations also welcomed the prospects of logistics and defense industry collaboration in the future and further enhancing multilateral cooperation.

Manila also expressed its appreciation for Canberra's continued support for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) centrality and active engagement through the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.

Also carried out was a review of the annual Philippines-Australia Defense Engagement Plan (DEP) that was co-chaired by the Office of Strategic Assessment and International Affairs (OSAIA), DND, and the International Policy Division (IPD), Australian Department of Defence (DoD).

The DEP outlines Philippines-Australia defense engagements for the upcoming cycle and will be submitted to Philippine and Australian authorities by the DCWG through the Philippines-Australia Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC).

The Australian delegation also paid a courtesy call on Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessments and International Affairs Teodoro Cirilo T. Torralba III.

In the meeting, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further develop Philippines-Australia defense relations.

“While the past two years of virtual meetings had been productive, nothing can replace in-person engagements,” Torralba said during an official dinner he hosted to welcome the Australian delegation.

The DCWG Meeting was co-chaired by Director Marita I. Yoro, OSAIA, and Director Stephen Broadbent, Philippines and Malaysia, IPD, on June 17.

Held annually, the DCWG is the working-level dialogue mechanism between the DND and DoD where the activities for the next cycle year are deliberated.

During the DCWG meeting, the DND bureaus presented their proposed engagements and highlighted key activities and new initiatives. (PNA)