Additional Australian Defence Support for the Philippines to expand AFP’s COVID-19 response
The Philippines is an important security partner for Australia, and we continue to work closely together in support of our shared commitment to an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Today marked the first visit to the Philippines of Australia's Minister for Defence, the Hon Linda Reynolds. Minister Reynolds was pleased to be able to meet face-to-face again with her Philippine counterpart and good friend Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana in Manila to discuss respective COVID-19 responses and the shared commitment of Australia and the Philippines to regional security and stability.
Testament to Australia´s close partnership with the Philippines, Minister Reynolds noted that Australian and Filipino Defence organisations had found innovative ways to continue to deepen long-standing defence cooperation during COVID-19.
This includes ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation under the Australia-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program, which was established in December 2019. The Program builds on the support provided by Australia under Operation AUGURY-Philippines, which delivered counter-terrorism capacity training to over 10,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines between 2017 and 2019.
Both sides noted that Australia and the Philippines have also continued to deepen cooperation through the conduct of COVID- safe exercises between the Philippines Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force, as well as defence industry cooperation.
During discussions, Minister Reynolds affirmed our shared interests in upholding maritime security in the region, including the South China Sea, and our support for the rights of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Minister Reynolds announced that Australia will provide up to AUD 2 million (PHP 70 million) in medical and personal protective equipment to support the infectious disease wards at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ five main medical centres across the country.
This will include items and equipment such as beds, mechanical ventilators, electrocardiogram machines, laboratory fridges, cardiac monitors, pulse oximeters, UV sterilizers and personal protective equipment to assist frontliners in their COVID-19 response, in the spirit of mateship and bayanihan.
This contribution builds on the AUD 1 million (PHP 35 million) support that Australia provided through its Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program for the expansion of the infectious disease ward of the Victoriano Luna Medical Center in Manila earlier this year.
All aspects of the visit were conducted with strict adherence to safety and health measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks.