Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana thanked the Australian government for its continued support to the country’s efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Lorenzana showed his appreciation during a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay City Thursday.
“Discussions focused on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) with the SND (Secretary of National Defense) expressing appreciation for Australia’s $1 million support for the expansion of the infectious diseases ward of the Victoriano Luna Medical Center as well as the donation of $2 million in medical and personal protective equipment that will capacitate hospitals under the AFP Health Service Command,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement Friday.
This gesture of support is anchored on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program, which expanded the defense cooperation between the two countries following Australia’s contributions to the Philippines’ counter-terrorism efforts, he added.
The bilateral meeting between the two defense chiefs followed a previous meeting at the sidelines of the 6th Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus in Thailand in November 2019 as well as a virtual meeting last May.
Both countries have also expressed satisfaction that the Philippines and Australia have been able to sustain and further enhance the two countries’ defense relations despite the pandemic through the virtual defense and military dialogue.
“It was highlighted that preparations for Philippines-Australia activities next year have continued and that such activities will be conducted once conditions allow, subject to the approval of Philippine and Australian authorities,” Andolong added.
Lorenzana also reaffirmed support for Australia’s co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group (EWG) on Military Medicine with Brunei Darussalam.
Also, the DND chief expressed appreciation for Australia’s support for Asean centrality and lauded Australia’s 2020 Vision for Defence Engagements with the regional bloc.
The two defense chiefs also agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea as well as compliance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (PNA)