PH-US MDB and SEB Convenes

The Philippine-US Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB) convened in Honolulu, Hawaii last 16 August 2011. Both boards are co-chaired by the AFP Chief of Staff and Commander, US PACOM with representatives from the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and Department of Foreign Affairs sitting as members. The MDB focuses on the traditional concern of mutual defense as provided for in the Mutual Defense Treaty while the SEB is concerned with non-traditional security issues that need to be addressed by the PH-US alliance.

The proposed activities of the two forces for 2012 were approved during the meeting, with the two co-chairs also giving their guidance to respective staffs for the planning of combined activities for 2013.

The discussions during the meeting centered on the most pressing issues facing the PH and US alliance, with the US elaborating on its strategy in the Asia-Pacific and the Philippines giving its outlook on maritime security, specifically the efforts being undertaken by the PH government to address maritime security-related issues and concerns.

The US noted its readiness to honor its commitment to its Asia-Pacific allies, specifically Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia. The robust partnership it has with Singapore and Vietnam was also acknowledged. It was also emphasized that both the US and the PH would work together to ensure that each other’s actions complement one another’s interest in the region. The PH, for its part, noted that its nascent maritime security strategy is underpinned by its policy and advocacy of adherence to international law and abiding by regional agreements and norms that call for peaceful conduct of states.

Signed during the meeting were several important bilateral documents that are meant to ensure the effectiveness of the PH-US alliance amidst the changing security landscape in the Asia-Pacific.