THE Philippines and the United Kingdom have agreed to forge a defense agreement that will expand military, security and disaster response cooperation between the two countries, British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said Monday.
Ahmad said the new pact will be more substantive and will address the dearth in ambition of the old one agreement, but it will “not be as complicated” as the agreements the Philippines has with its treaty allies, the United States and Australia.
“It’s not VFA,” Ahmad said, referring to the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. “I won’t describe it as British troops coming here because that sounds a bit emotive. It’s British expertise coming here.”
The ambassador did not reveal details, but said the countries are already exchanging drafts that present “a range of options and capabilities that we actually have and it is then up to the Philippine government to decide.”
Ahmad said the UK wanted to “expand its scope a little bit” to cover some of the lessons its military learned when they were bringing aid to the victims of Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ in 2014.
“We have too many written protocols to have these done,” he said. “We treat it more like an umbrella under which we can do many, many things, but at least there is permission within that.”
Ahmad said the new accord was one of the points agreed by British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier this month.
“I don’t want to put a timetable but I think well before October. We are just exchanging drafts,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad announced the new agreement as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it will install navigational equipment beside the Rancudo Airfield at Pag-asa Island.
The CAAP said the agency will lease a 200 sq.m parcel of land beside the airport runway for the installation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast equipment in a 200 sq. m land beside the runway of Rancudo airfield at Pag-asa Island.
The technology is a system that an aircraft use to determine their location via satellite navigation and makes flying significantly safer by providing pilots with improved situational awareness.
Pilots in an ADS-B in equipped cockpit will have the ability to see, on their in-cockpit flight display, other traffic operating in the airspace as well as access to clear and detailed weather information. They will also be able to receive temporary flight restrictions to runway closings.
But CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Rodante Joya complained that the team that was sent to inspect the land was supposedly harassed by the Chinese last Jan. 7.
Accompanied by Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr., the team of seven technical personnel was warned off by the Chinese navy as they were approaching Pagasa Island.
“Foreign military aircraft, this is the Chinese Navy, you are threatening the security of our station,” a man said on emergency aeronautical frequency 121.5 megahertz.
But the pilot ignored the warning as he was fully aware that they were within Philippine territory.