Philippines-Canada relations

PH, Canada a step closer to VFA

Bea Cupin

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PH, Canada a step closer to VFA

DEFENSE TIES. Canadian Ambassador David Hartman and Philippine Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro sign a defense agreement on Friday, January 19.

'The strongest assets we have are the mutual trust and confidence that we have in one another on a people-to-people basis,' says the Philippine defense chief

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Canada signed on Friday, January 19, a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation at the Philippine Department of Defense (DND).

In a statement to media, Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro characterized the document as a “a strong intention on both sides to deepen and strengthen the relationships by forging new milestones in our defense relations.”

Teodoro added that the evolution in defense ties could, “culminate, perhaps, with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).”

Canada has been keen on a VFA with the Philippines. If that is agreed on, it would become easier for Canadian soldiers to visit the Philippines to participate in joint military exercises, including those with other countries.

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The Philippines has been working on deepening ties with existing defense partners, as well as upping defense relations with new or emerging ones.

Better and newer defense relations are crucial for the Philippines, as tensions rise in the region. Marcos himself has characterized the Indo-Pacific as a region having “the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now.”

As Canada and the Philippines look towards a possible VFA, Manila comes closer to signing a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Tokyo.

Teodoro, speaking after the signing of the document, said it was important for different 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,” he said.

Canada was represented by its Ambassador to Manila David Hartman.

In October 2023, Canada gave the Philippines access to its dark vessel detection system, allowing Philippine maritime agencies the ability to monitor vessels at sea, even if they go dark from the Automatic Identification System. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.