DFA, military welcome Senate approval of Philippines-Australia VFA
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs and the military on Tuesday welcomed the Senate’s concurrence with the Philippines-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) with Australia.
The Senate has passed on third reading the resolution seeking to ratify the visiting forces agreement between the two countries.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomes the ratification of the SOVFA by the Senate. Australia is a key ally in this part of the region. SOVFA is mutually beneficial to both countries armed forces,” Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, military spokesman said.
“It will further strengthen bilateral ties as we upgrade our soldiers’ knowledge and skils particularly in the conduct of HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response).”
Burgos added this would strengthen “bilateral relationship” with Australia in view of “mutually contributing in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region” as the Philippines gears towards a minimum credible defense capability and reliable disaster response capacity.
The DFA described the agreement as “another milestone in the Philippine-Australian relations,” saying it will lead to enhanced cooperation in capacity-building and training of armed forces between the two countries.
“While the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] on Cooperative Defense Activities serves as the framework for bilateral defense and military cooperation, the SOVFA paves the way for enhanced cooperation in capacity-building and training of armed forces, interoperability to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, counter-terrorism, border security, and maritime security,” the statement said.
The statement said Australia had been assisting the Philippines in strengthening its maritime security capability with initiatives such as the Coast Watch South project and the joint Maritime Training Activity LUMBAS.
“These initiatives are expected to be further expanded and strengthened under the SOVFA,” the statement added.
Senators voted 17-1 to ratify the SOVFA between the Philippines and Australia on third and final reading on Tuesday.
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