By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – The defense relations between the Philippines and Canada were further strengthened after ranking officials of the two nations signed on Friday the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., who signed on behalf of the Philippines, expressed his satisfaction at the “robust commitment” shown by the two countries in deepening their defense ties.
“I’m 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,” he said.
Teodoro emphasized the role of the Department of Foreign Affairs in facilitating such connections.
The signing of the MOU, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Canada, jumpstarts cooperation between the defense and military establishments of the two nations on military education, training exchanges, among others.
Teodoro also pledged the DND’s commitment to the full implementation of the MOU, in line with the department’s thrust to strengthen its defense partnerships with like-minded states, given the evolving regional security landscape.
While acknowledging the interrelated dynamics of the Middle East, Europe, and the recent conflict between Pakistan and Iran, he noted the imperative for nations to collaborate, 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 said.
Meanwhile, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, David Bruce Hartman conveyed Canada’s intention to advance its relations with the Philippines and the region as outlined in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
Teodoro thanked Hartman, acknowledging the envoy’s role in fostering strong ties between the two nations.
Earlier, a bilateral defense meeting was also convened to exchange views on global security concerns, as well as to discuss future activities and initiatives between the two countries headed by DND Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessments and International Affairs Marita Yoro for the Philippine side, and Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) Peter Hammerschmidt for the Canadian side. (PNA)