DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino (left) and New Zealand Minister of Defence Peeni Henare (right) (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – The Philippines and New Zealand are looking at the possibility of boosting cooperation in terms of disaster response and climate change mitigation.

This came as Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. met with New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Peeni Henare during a meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia on Monday.

The two officials are in Cambodia for the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Retreat and the 9th ADMM-Plus scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

"Both ministers discussed the status of bilateral defense relations between the Philippines and New Zealand, and welcomed opportunities to work together in various areas of cooperation, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, pandemic response, and climate change," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement late Monday.

Faustino, during his speech at the 83rd founding anniversary of the DND, said the agency will strengthen its disaster resilience and adapt to climate change with the help of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan.

The Philippine Army and the New Zealand Army have medium-term engagements in military training and education and collaboration in technology transfers, intelligence, and information exchanges.

Meanwhile, Faustino was welcomed by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tea Banh to the ADMM Retreat and 9th ADMM-Plus.

The two officials looked forward to strengthening defense relations through the conduct of bilateral dialogue and training exchanges between the armed forces, particularly on urban warfare.

Faustino is also set to meet with the defense ministers of South Korea, the US and Vietnam on the sidelines of the ADMM Retreat and 9th ADMM-Plus. (PNA)