PH-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue Held in Manila

Convening their Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) for the 5th since 2011, senior officials from the Philippines' departments of national defense and foreign affairs and US' departments of defense and state met in Manila on January 20-21 to stake stock of the progress of PH-US strategic partnership as well as chart the direction of the alliance. The dialogue centered on four thematic areas to include territorial defense and maritime security; rule of law and law enforcement; economics, development and prosperity; and global and regional diplomatic engagements.

The development of a credible defense posture was the key theme in the discussions pertaining to territorial defense and maritime security. The Philippines' efforts towards this were lauded, with the marked improvement of AFP's capability in recent times being acknowledged. The US' readiness to contribute towards the development of such posture were welcomed by the Philippines. Alongside maritime security, the matter of effectively responding to disasters and natural calamities is also a common concern for the Philippines and the US. Both sides agreed to sustain and deepen cooperation in enhancing HA/DR capabilities.

While the Philippines internal security environment has dramatically improved with the peace process in Mindanao getting headway, the dangers posed by extremism and radicalism remains, prompting both sides to stress their commitment to continue working together to address this concern. And with the increasing use of cyberspace, ensuring the security and integrity of each other's cyber infrastructure is a shared concern.

Underpinning efforts to address these issues of common concern (from maritime security to HA/DR to violent extremism to cyber security) is the effective and timely sharing of information, inducing officials from both sides to further explore ways on how to effectively exchange relevant information in a secure manner.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia led the Philippine delegation while Defense Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear and State Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel led the US delegation. Defense Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop and Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Southeast Asia Amy Searight led the discussions on territorial defense and maritime security.