PH-Australia strategic linkup to promote Indo-Pacific peace

By Priam Nepomuceno

September 11 2023, 1:22 pm

MANILA – International think tank Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute (ADRi) on Monday said the recent signing of a strategic partnership deal between the Philippines and Australia provides an assurance of peace in the Indo-Pacific despite continuing security challenges particularly in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“The Stratbase ADRi fully supports the deepening of Philippine-Australia relations. Australia has consistently been among the countries most trusted by Filipinos,” Stratbase ADRi president Victor Andres "Dindo" Manhit said in a statement.

He also lauded Australia for its unwavering support for the Philippines, particularly its recognition of the 2016 arbitral ruling and its commitment to preserving the rule of law.

"Its presence in the Indo-Pacific and defense of the rules-based international order provides assurance that peace, stability, and prosperity will be maintained in the region,” Manhit added.

He said the signing of the pact is a natural progression for growing ties between the two countries.

“Over the last 77 years, our defense and economic ties have grown stronger, fortified by shared values and principles. The visit of the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Manila is a landmark initiative that highlights the central geopolitical value of the Philippines in the Indo-Pacific region,” Manhit said.

He stressed the importance of the Philippines-Australia relationship in enhancing regional security and prosperity through cooperation and partnership.

“In particular, Australia has been a dedicated partner in enhancing our military capabilities, as demonstrated by our recently concluded Exercise Alon, which strengthens our external defense and interoperability,” Manhit said.

“Furthermore, our elevated relationship with Australia assures us of a reliable friend and partner in economic prosperity. Our trade activities form a significant part of our relations, as evidenced by Australia’s release of its Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, which includes cooperation with the Philippines,” he added.

In a joint statement on Saturday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Albanese said in declaring the strategic partnership, they are “reaffirming their shared interests in building prosperity and preserving peace in the Indo-Pacific”.

“We recognize the stability in the region is anchored on respect for national sovereignty and shaped by long-standing agreed rules and norms, based on international law,” both leaders said.

Marcos and Albanese also emphasized the importance of resolving disputes “peacefully, without the threat and use of force or coercion, in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”.

They also recognized that the 2016 Arbitral Award is final and legally binding, and called on both parties involved to abide by the award. (PNA)