But PBBM to seek review of MDT, VFA, climate change programs
By Vince Lopez
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said his government will seek a review of the treaty agreements signed between the Philippines and its long-time ally, the United States, while seeking more partnerships and enhance current deals on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In an interview with broadcaster and former Social Welfare secretary Erwin Tulfo, the President said he would like to see agreements on climate change.
Mr. Marcos said Manila and Washington will discuss commitments to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), a 70-year-old accord between the two allies.
“We have to evolve it. It has to evolve,” the President said, noting the changes in the situation in the South China Sea, events in Taiwan and in North Korea. “The situation is heating up a bit,” he said.
Mr. Marcos said the MDT and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) will be among the topics that he will take up with US President Joe Biden during his official working visit to Washington starting May 1.
The Philippines earlier this year identified Camilo Osias Naval Base in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; and Balabac Island in Palawan as additional locations that can be accessed by US troops under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
In terms of climate change initiatives, the President said he will be meeting with top US officials to discuss “green bonds,” which are financial instruments linked to climate change solutions and are specific projects to help reduce carbon emissions.
The meeting between Mr. Marcos and Mr. Biden will take place as tension between the US and China escalates due to the issue in Taiwan. China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory.
The White House earlier said Mr. Biden and Mr. Marcos would tackle regional matters and coordinate efforts that will uphold international law and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The leaders will also review opportunities “to deepen economic cooperation and promote inclusive prosperity, expand our nations’ special people-to-people ties, invest in the clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, and ensure respect for human rights,” the White House said.
On Friday, Filipino, American, and Australian special troops conducted resupply bundle drop operations (also known as parachute resupply or airdrops) in the coastal waters of Barangay Punta Baja, Rizal, Palawan as part of this year’s “Balikatan” exercises.
The Western Command (Wescom), in a Facebook post Sunday, said participating units are from the Army 18th Special Forces, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Special Operation Group alongside their American and Australian counterparts.
The exercise involved the dropping of resupplies using a Lockheed Martin C-130J “Super Hercules” of the US Air Force flying at low altitude. Participating forces then immediately recovered the materials using indigenous fishing boats.
“This realistic scenario is designed to train the participants in the effective conduct of resupply missions in a denied area,” the Wescom post said.
Wescom said this “Balikatan” exercise is a good opportunity for local and foreign allied forces to share knowledge and skills together toward boosting their capabilities, combat readiness and interoperability.
Meanwhile, Wescom said that its 3rd Marine Brigade and its subordinate units participated in so-called “visit, board, search, and seizure” (VBSS) exercises held at the Joint Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center in Barangay Magarwak, Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City.
Among the participants were the PCG, 2nd Special Operations Unit of the Philippine National Police Maritime Group, and the US armed forces.
The 10-day event, which started April 12, was facilitated by the US Marine Corps’ Marine Special Operation Command. Some of the actual VBSS training was conducted on board M/V Palawan Coast at the port area of Barangay Liwanag, Puerto Princesa City.
“VBSS is a critical skill set for military personnel, particularly those involved in maritime operations. The ability to quickly and effectively board and search a vessel is crucial in preventing illegal activities at sea and maintaining security in the maritime environment.”
“The exercise, which included scenarios involving boarding of vessels suspected of engaging in illegal activities, was designed to enhance the capabilities of troops in carrying out VBSS operations, which are often conducted in challenging situations,” Wescom said. With PNA