MANILA, Mar 8 (Mabuhay) — The French Navy has expressed willingness to work with its Philippine counterparts at sea.

“We are ready to work with your forces at sea. We need to protect, we need to defend the freedom of navigation including (on) the West Philippine Sea,” said Rear Adm. Jean-Mathieu Rey, Joint Commander of the French Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific (ALPACI), during his courtesy call on Philippine Navy (PN) chief, Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado, on Monday.

PN spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza, in a statement, said Rey’s visit is in line with the scheduled March 8 to 11 port call of French surveillance frigate Vendémiaire (F-734) to the country.

“Rear Admiral Rey was accorded with arrival honors as he paid a courtesy call on the Flag-Officer-In-Command, PN, Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado. The French Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. (Her Excellency) Michele Boccoz was present during the event together with the Non-Resident Defense Attaché of France to the Philippines, Col. Emmanuel Peltriaux; and military assistant, Lt. Eric Grauliere,” he added.

The port call is part of the French Navy’s deployment in Asia to contribute to regional stability, promote international rule of law, and develop cooperation among Asian countries.

Among the highlights of the visit were talks on maritime security, protection of natural resources at sea, and possible future exercise engagements, which Rey believes to be “good opportunities to improve the Philippine and French navies’ knowledge and interoperability.”

Rey also expressed the French Navy’s intention to increase the level of cooperation with the PN, particularly with the scheduled deployment of their amphibious and training task force in 2023.

He even cited possible conduct of command patrols with partner navies in the region.

Meanwhile, Bordado thanked the French Navy for their continuing support to the PN.

“He agreed to explore talks on future participation of the two navies in bilateral and multilateral exercises and other possible areas of collaboration,” Negranza added.

The French delegation also paid a courtesy call on the Commander Philippine Fleet, Rear Admiral Nichols Driz Monday afternoon, at Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City.

As this developed, Rear Admiral Antonio Palces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Education, Training, and Doctrine (J-8) assumed his post as PN second-in-command during short ceremonies that took place last March 7 at PN headquarters in Roxas Boulevard, Manila last March 7.

Bordado also presided over the turnover ceremony that ushered in Palces who succeeded Major Gen. Nestor Herico who earlier assumed as the Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps. (MNS)

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