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PH, US must focus in 4 separate areas to modernize alliance — Galvez

The Philippines and the United States must focus in four separate areas for the modernization of both countries’ military alliance, according to Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Galvez highlighted the importance of the Philippines and the US defense cooperation especially when challenges are becoming “increasing complex and evolving.”

“To modernize our alliance we need to focus on separate areas. Number one is that we need a common understanding of our policies and priorities. That's why we will be having our defense guidelines. And upgrade our equipment to sustain our militaries’ capability to respond to threats,” Galvez said after the 2+2 meeting held in Washington DC.

He said the second area must enhance the countries’ cyber defenses to protect critical infrastructures and sensitive information.

Galvez said the third area must need to increase intelligence sharing and cooperation to address challenges.

“Fourth, we must improve interoperability between our forces to better coordinate and conduct joint activities,” he added.

Galvez also said that both countries’ alliance is for “peace,” adding that the defense alliance is critical in assuring the safety and security of the Filipinos.

“As I have said yesterday... that our alliance is for peace. Our defense alliance is critical in assuring the safety and security of our citizens, and we continue to work together to enhance our capabilities to meet the current and future security challenges, including disasters,” he said.

He also expressed gratitude to the US for helping to contain the recent oil spill from the sunken motor tanker in Oriental Mindoro.

“I am looking forward to another fruitful discussions to strengthen our alliance and work together towards the more peaceful and secure future,” Galvez added.

The 2+2 meeting involved US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Galvez, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

During the 2+2 meeting on Tuesday, the US and Philippines agreed to complete a road map on US security assistance to the Philippines in the next five to 10 years.

Austin said the long-time allies discussed the delivery of "priority defense platforms" including radars, drones, military transport aircraft and coastal and air defense systems.

The Philippines and the US also kicked off their biggest Balikatan military exercise on Tuesday, which aims to develop interoperability between the two countries and improve capability.

The 38th Balikatan will have 17,600 participants including 12,200 US troops and 5,400 Philippine soldiers.

The Balikatan exercise will conclude on April 28. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News