PH Holds Bilateral Meetings with US and Japan at the Sidelines of ADMM-Plus

Trilateral defense cooperation among the Philippines, the US and Japan may soon be pursued as the three countries further deepen their respective bilateral defense relations with each other. In his bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Japan's Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation. The Philippines last year signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US while a Memorandum on Defense Cooperation with Japan was inked early this year. Both agreements were signed by Secretary Gazmin.

While the discussions with the US centered on developments in the South China Sea and the imperative for preserving peace and stability in the area, the meeting with Japan revolved around the prospects of 
being transferred to Manila defense equipment specifically those that enhance the Philippine capabilities for maritime domain awareness. Japan has previously been constrained in sharing its defense materiel and technology with partner countries but has recently become more open about the possibility of pursuing cooperation in this field.

The meetings of Secretary Gazmin with these defense leaders have become increasingly more frequent either at the sidelines of the multilateral regional platforms or through bilateral visits, a manifestation of both closer defense ties and an indication of desire of each of the countries to cooperate with one another.