MANILA – Australia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles made a courtesy call on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Marcos and Marles tackled ways to boost the alliance between the Philippines and Australia.
"I truly believe that the future lies in strong alliances and in a united front in promoting again the values that we consider important to our countries," Marcos said.
He said Marles’ visit "will be an important part of the response" to the recent acts by the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.
They also discussed "respective positions on various areas of cooperation, particularly in security and defense, and other pressing issues confronting the world today", according to state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) on its official Facebook page.
Also present during the meeting between Marcos and Marles were Philippine Defense Officer-in-Charge, Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr.; Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Secretary Anton Lagdameo, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Earlier in the day, Galvez and Marles held a joint press conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City where the two discussed the possibility of conducting joint patrols in the South China Sea.
"(We are) looking at ways which we can pursue joint patrols together in the South China Sea, and looking at ways in which we can do more exercises together," Marles said shortly after his meeting with Galvez.
Marles said Australia and the Philippines have a greater strategic alignment than they had at any moment in their respective histories.
"Both countries are allies of the United States, both countries have China as our largest trading partner. Both the Philippines and Australia are completely committed to a global rules-based order," he added.
Galvez, for his part, said counter-terrorism and maritime security remain the "core pillars" of the two nations' bilateral defense relations.
"We reaffirm the need to continue working together towards a common goal of maintaining a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific Region,” he said.
He also reiterated the country’s appreciation to Australia for its consistent support of the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Award and at the same time its continued support during the Covid-19 pandemic. (PNA)