Marcos, Biden recommit to defense alliance amid China tension
WASHINGTON D.C., United States — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and US President Joe Biden on Monday (early morning Tuesday, Philippine time) reaffirmed Manila and Washington’s decades-old defense alliance in a bilateral meeting at the White House.
In his opening statement before the meeting, Biden told Marcos that the US commitment to the defense of the Philippines remained “ironclad,” including the South China Sea.
A joint statement between the two leaders said that this meant that any armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, would invoke US mutual defense commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
Marcos then told Biden that the US is Manila’s sole treaty ally in a region with “arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now.”
According to a “fact sheet” released by the White House on the Marcos-Biden meeting, Washington and Manila will adopt “bilateral defense guidelines “to deepen alliance cooperation and interoperability across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.”
The guidelines, the joint statement said, support the continued modernization of the alliance and ongoing efforts to adapt alliance coordination to respond to the evolving security environment.
“As outlined in the Guidelines, the United States and the Philippines will advance efforts to deepen interoperability, particularly through enhanced bilateral planning; information-sharing; accelerated defense capability development; and collaboration on emerging security challenges,” it read.
According to the statement, the US intends to transfer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines two Island-class patrol vessels, two Protector-class patrol vessels, and three C-130H aircraft, pending applicable Congressional notification requirements.
Additionally, two Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels were transferred to the Philippines in late April, and are now en route to Manila.
“These transfers will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program by enhancing its maritime and tactical lift capabilities,” the fact sheet read.
In the joint statement, Marcos and Biden welcomed the identification of four new sites under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which, it said, would strengthen Philippine security and drive US investment to local communities across the Philippines.
According to the White House, the US is working closely with communities in the vicinity of the EDCA sites to fully realize their positive value for local development and for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Washington intends to expand its work in these communities and areas to support health, education, environmental protection, economic growth, and disaster preparedness, it added.