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US Indo-Pacific Command chief visits Philippines

Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, visited the Philippines for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.

In a statement, the AFP said Aquilino reiterated the commitment of the US to the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region during a ceremony marking the occasion.

“Our alliance represents the mutual trust that is central to our enduring friendship, and this trust is a necessity in order to confront the security challenges in this theater,” Aquilino said.

“Both of our nations have made it clear that we are committed to the Alliance, and that we remain prepared to fight alongside and defend each other using all of our capabilities to preserve the region’s peace and stability,” he added.

According to the AFP, this is Aquilino’s first visit to the Philippines as the commander US Indo-Pacific Command.

During his visit, he met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and AFP Inspector General Lieutenant General Franco Nemesio Gacal.

AFP chief Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr. failed to attend the ceremony after he tested positive for COVID-19. He was instead represented by Gacal.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomes Admiral John C Aquilino as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, the birth of our defense alliance,” Gacal said.

“This occasion is an opportunity to advance our mutual security interests and manifests both our Armed Forces’ commitment to the alliance even in the midst of challenges brought by the pandemic,” he added.

In August 2018, Aquilino visited the Philippines as Commander U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet and discussed opportunities to increase military cooperation with Lorenzana and other Philippine defense officials. —Joviland Rita/KBK, GMA News