NEW YORK – Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana met his US counterpart, Secretary Jim Mattis at the US capital on Sept. 18 for a bilateral meeting on a range of bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lorenzana reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the Philippines-US alliance. The two officials previously met at the sidelines of the Shanri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2018.
“Most in our defense establishments agree that the Philippines-US alliance remains robust based on an enduring history of close engagement and our unwavering commitment to work together on shared values,” Secretary Lorenzana told Mattis during the meeting at the Pentagon.
Secretary Mattis expressed solidarity with the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) and pledged readiness to extend assistance if necessary. He also commended the courage and sacrifice of Filipino troops in liberating Marawi.
“Once again, the United States was proud to support you and we will always be proud to stand with the Filipino people to support our shared vision of a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo Pacific region,” Secretary Mattis said.
Both officials reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. Their conversation also touched on the denuclearization of North Korea and the situation in the South China Sea. Secretary Pompeo expressed condolences for the devastation caused by Typhoon Ompong and offered US assistance in extending disaster relief. Secretary Pompeo also committed to support the Philippines’ defense modernization efforts.
Lorenzana also engaged with Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Dan Sullivan of Alaska in separate meetings. The Secretary exchanged sympathies with the legislators for the victims of Hurricane Florence in the United States and Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines.
Senator Gardner, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, and Senator Sullivan, a prominent member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, both highlighted the importance of the Philippines-US alliance in maintaining regional peace and stability in the Indo Pacific.
Lorenzana also met with members of Washington’s business and think tank communities at round table-lunch meetings hosted by the US-Philippines Society and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, who was with him during his visit said: “Secretary Lorenzana assured US leaders that while the Philippines has revitalized other defense partnerships and is exploring new ones with non-traditional partners in line with its independent foreign policy, this does not, in any way affect the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and the United States”.
Romualdez said that Lorenzana was able to communicate the priorities of the Duterte Administration. “The Department of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and the Philippine Embassy will be certain to build on this visit’s positive results,” he said.
Besides Lorenzana and Romualdez, they were joined by DND Assistant Secretary for Assessment and International Affairs (ASAIA) Teodoro Cirilo Torralba II; Deputy Chief of Mission Patrick Chuasoto, Philippine Embassy; COL. Marlo Guloy, Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché, Philippine Embassy; BGEN Pablo Lorenzo; Ms. Faysaleyyah Abdullah, Senior Defense Research Officer, ASAIA; MAJ. Geralfredo Andal (PA); and CDR Jason Manaligod.