|US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Philippine Secretary for National Defense Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon with a full honor cordon prior to their bilateral meeting on 18 September 2018. Philippine Embassy Photo|
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the Philippines-US alliance during his first official visit in the US capital as defense secretary on 18-20 September 2018.
On 18 September, Secretary Lorenzana was hosted by US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with a full honor cordon at the US Department of Defense, followed by a bilateral meeting between their respective delegations. The two defense officials last met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2018.
“Most in our defense establishments agree that the Philippines-US alliance remains robust based on an enduring history of close engagement and our unwavering commitment to work together on shared values,” Secretary Lorenzana told his US counterpart during the meeting at the Pentagon.
The meeting’s wide-ranging discussion tackled bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as the defense modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Secretary Mattis expressed solidarity with the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) and pledged readiness to extend assistance if necessary. He also commended the courage and sacrifice of Filipino troops in liberating Marawi.
“Once again, the United States was proud to support you and we will always be proud to stand with the Filipino people to support our shared vision of a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo Pacific region,” Secretary Mattis said.
|Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discuss PH-US bilateral cooperation in Washington DC on 19 September 2018. Philippine Embassy Photo|
On 19 September, Secretary Lorenzana met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and both officials reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. Their conversation also touched on the denuclearization of North Korea and the situation in the South China Sea. Secretary Pompeo expressed condolences for the devastation caused by Typhoon Ompong and offered US assistance in extending disaster relief. Secretary Pompeo also committed to support the Philippines’ defense modernization efforts.
While in Washington, Secretary Lorenzana also engaged with Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Dan Sullivan of Alaska in separate meetings. The Secretary exchanged sympathies with the legislators for the victims of Hurricane Florence in the United States and Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines. Senator Gardner, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, and Senator Sullivan, a prominent member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, both highlighted the importance of the Philippines-US alliance in maintaining regional peace and stability in the Indo Pacific.
Secretary Lorenzana was also able to meet with members of Washington’s business and think tank communities at round table-lunch meetings hosted by the US-Philippines Society and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez accompanied the Secretary in the latter’s engagements.
“Secretary Lorenzana assured US leaders that while the Philippines has revitalized other defense partnerships and is exploring new ones with non-traditional partners in line with its independent foreign policy, this does not, in any way affect the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and the United States,” said Ambassador Romualdez.
“He was also able to clearly communicate the priorities of the Duterte Administration. The Department of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and the Philippine Embassy will be certain to build on this visit’s positive results,” Ambassador Romualdez added.
The other members of the Philippine delegation include DND Assistant Secretary for Assessment and International Affairs (ASAIA) Teodoro Cirilo Torralba II; Deputy Chief of Mission Patrick Chuasoto, Philippine Embassy; COL. Marlo Guloy, Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché, Philippine Embassy; BGEN Pablo Lorenzo; Ms. Faysaleyyah Abdullah, Senior Defense Research Officer, ASAIA; MAJ. Geralfredo Andal (PA); and CDR Jason Manaligod (PN).