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The Philippines and Australia have finalized an agreement on logistical support that seeks to deepen defense relations between the two countries.
The Australian embassy in the Philippines said on Wednesday, August 18, that the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) agreed upon by Manila and Canberra likewise aims to address security challenges in the region.
In a statement on Wednesday, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson AO said the deal “provides a solid framework for the Philippines and Australia’s defense organizations to conduct more complex engagement, and enhance interoperability in practical ways.”
Robinson said, “As Australia and the Philippines face a rapidly evolving strategic environment, seeking new opportunities like this is increasingly important for deepening defense engagement.”
Aside from this, a mutual logistics support pact is also expected to improve response to humanitarian disasters, he added.
The new arrangement between the Philippines and Australia would allow the provision of logistics support during military exercises, training, and development, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement on Thursday, August 19. The defense chief added that the agreement is also beneficial to other activities and cooperation between the two countries.
“MLSA will, likewise, facilitate rapid deployment of both forces for purposes of humanitarian assistance and disaster response. It is intended to enhance the interoperability between the AFP and ADF, which regularly conduct exercises under the PH-AUS Defense Cooperation and the SOVFA,” Lorenzana said.
The Philippines’ MLSA with Australia is the latest security-related deal between the two countries. In 1995, the Philippines and Australia signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperative defense activities. They later entered into a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) in 2012.
The SOVFA had been “instrumental” in allowing Australia to assist in response operations after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 through the “rapid deployment of medical assistance, humanitarian and reconstruction support involving over 500 service personnel, numerous aircraft, and the Landing Ship Heavy HMAS Tobruk,” Australia said.
Robinson expressed optimism that cooperation between Manila and Canberra through the MLSA “promotes our shared vision for a peaceful, inclusive, and resilient region of sovereign states.”
Earlier, Australia had joined other countries in expressing concern over “destabilizing actions” that could raise tensions in the highly volatile South China Sea after a number of Chinese vessels continued to linger near Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com