US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and PH Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana face the media together during the Joint Press Briefing held in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on 30 July 2021.
Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana and US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III held a bilateral meeting in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo on 30 July 2021, during the two-day official visit of the US defense chief to the Philippines on July 29-30, 2021.
Also present during the bilateral meeting were the senior leaders of the Department of National Defense (DND), officials of the US Department of Defense (DOD) as well as U.S. Embassy officials led by Chargé d'Affaires John C. Law.
The DND welcomed the visit of Secretary Austin as the two countries commemorate the 70th anniversary of PH-US alliance and the 75th year since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Aside from boosting security ties and defense cooperation between the two countries, the defense secretaries discussed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), developments in the South China Sea (SCS) and the Indo-Pacific region as well as the fight against COVID-19.
Secretary Lorenzana and Secretary Austin delivered their respective statements in a joint press briefing held after the bilateral meeting.
“The bilateral ministerial meeting we held this morning served as a platform to discuss the way ahead for the Philippines-US alliance, based on the current priorities of our respective administrations. It underscored the significance of the bilateral defense relations between the Philippines and the US, in light of new and re-emerging challenges that confront our nations,” Secretary Lorenzana said at the briefing.
“This visit is another manifestation of the shared commitment to the alliance between our defense establishments amid the inherent risks and challenges of the pandemic,” he added
Secretary Lorenzana announced that after the meeting of President Rodrigo Duterte with Secretary Austin last night, the President decided to retract the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Secretary Austin thanked President Duterte for his decision to fully restore the VFA, when he delivered his statement.
“A strong and resilient US and Philippines alliance remain vital to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. A fully restored VFA will help us achieve this goal together,” Secretary Austin said in his statement.
He mentioned that this is his first visit to South East Asia as Secretary of Defense. “I am glad to have the opportunity in person, to reaffirm our shared commitment to the US-Philippine alliance,” he said further.
Public health and bio security protocols were strictly followed during the event in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.