New PH-Australia pact to boost relief work
The country’s mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA) with Australia will allow more disaster aid and enable the Philippine military to get skills upgrades from more trainings and exchanges.
This was the belief of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said the MLSA would “enhance the interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Australian Defence Force (ADF), which regularly conduct exercises under the PH-AUS Defense Cooperation and the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (Sovfa).”
The Sovfa, signed in 2012, provides the legal and operational framework for defense cooperation and was instrumental in 2013 to Australia’s assistance response to victims of Typhoon “Yolanda.”
The MLSA between the Philippines and Australia was signed by AFP deputy chief of staff for logistics Rear Adm. Alberto Carlos for the Philippines on Feb. 18 and by his Australian counterpart ADF Rear Adm. Ian Murray on April 23.The MLSA has been endorsed by the Department of National Defense (DND) to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which will then transmit the arrangement to President Duterte for approval.
A source in the DND clarified that logistics support under the MLSA would not involve the provision of military hardware.
“The arrangement is more on humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he said.
On Tuesday Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said the MLSA would make it easier for the two countries to work together in addressing regional security challenges.
Robinson said it would enable Philippine and Australian defense organizations to “conduct more complex engagement and enhance interoperability in practical ways.”
He pointed out that “it will be easier for both countries to respond to humanitarian disasters in our region together.”
“As Australia and the Philippines face a rapidly evolving strategic environment, seeking new opportunities like this is increasingly important for deepening defense engagement,” Robinson said in a statement.
According to the Australian Embassy, the Sovfa was envisioned to provide a more comprehensive legal framework to enable both nations to enhance their ties and lay the foundation for stronger defense cooperation in the years to come.
“One illustration of its successful implementation was Australia’s ability to respond quickly to Typhoon Yolanda relief operations, in close cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” it said.
In addition to strategic cooperation, education and training were major priorities for Australia’s defense engagement with the Philippines, it added.
Both countries’ defense relationship also focused on counterterrorism, maritime security and assistance for the AFP’s modernization program.
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