DND chief eyes VFA with Canada

DND chief eyes VFA with Canada

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:40 AM January 20, 2024

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Friday floated the possibility of having a visiting forces deal with Canada.

From left: David Bruce Hartman, Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines; and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. during the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Canada and the Philippines. Photo from the Department of National Defense

The Philippines and Canada are eyeing for a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to boost the defense relations between the two countries, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Friday.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines David Hartman signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation, which includes military education, training exchanges, information sharing, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, among others.


READ: Teodoro floats possibility of visiting forces deal with Canada

An MOU is a nonbinding document, as defined in Cambridge online dictionary, “that records the details of an agreement between two companies or organizations, which has not yet been legally approved.”


In a statement, Teodoro said, “I am glad to hear that there is a strong intention on both sides to deepen and strengthen the relationships by forging new milestones in our defense relations to culminate, perhaps, with the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

Committed to implement

Teodoro didn’t say what form or shape a possible VFA with Canada will take, but an existing VFA that the Philippines has with the United States allows the rotation of thousands of American troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises.

He, however, assured Canada of the DND’s commitment to the full implementation of the MOU, as part of its goal to strengthen its defense partnerships with like-minded states, given the evolving regional security landscape.

Teodoro pointed out the need for partnerships with allies particularly in “areas of common vulnerabilities.”

“The strongest assets we have are the mutual trust and confidence that we have in one another on a people-to-people basis, and because we are dealing with each other in a straightforward, open and on a rules-based manner, such trust is reinforced and will surpass political changes and the tests of time,” Teodoro added.

Earlier this week, he told reporters on the sidelines of a cybersecurity forum in Makati that Canada has always been supportive of the country’s position in the South China Sea.


In the face of China’s increased assertiveness in the disputed waters, Canada backed the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that said China’s claims in South China Sea had no legal basis. China rejects that finding.

Combat illegal fishing

The signing of the memorandum followed the signing in October of an arrangement between the Philippines and Canada for the use of Ottawa’s Dark Vessel Detection (DVD) system to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by vessels that have switched off their location transmitters to evade detection.

The DVD system will also enhance the Philippines’ maritime domain awareness over its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, where it has had a series of maritime confrontations with China.

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According to the DND, Hartman also conveyed Canada’s intention to “advance its relations” with the Philippines and in the region as outlined in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strateg. —WITH A REPORT FROM REUTERS

TAGS: Canada, DND, VFA

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