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Philippines, Australia launch Maritime Cooperative Activity in PH's EEZ

The Philippines and Australia on Saturday began the inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity in the former's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to deepen their strategic and defense partnership toward maritime security.

"Today marks the launch of the inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity between our armed forces and the defense forces of our strategic partner, Australia," President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Marcos said the activity aims to "enhance bilateral interoperability in maritime security and domain awareness; test doctrines, existing protocols, and enhance efficiency; and foster closer cooperation between our countries' armed forces."

"This inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity and those that may follow are a practical manifestation of the growing and deepening strategic and defense partnership between our countries," he added.

"This highlights our shared commitment to supporting the rules-based international order and a more peaceful, secure, and stable Indo-Pacific region," Marcos said.

“The Philippines and Australia are longstanding defense partners. The Philippines welcomes bilateral activities with Australia, and other like-minded partners, that promote and maintain a rules-based international order," Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in a statement issued Saturday.

The Maritime Cooperative Activity will run until Monday, Nov. 27.

It will include Philippine Navy vessels BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Davao del Sur, Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba, five Philippine Air Force surveillance aircraft, and a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft, according to a joint statement issued by Teodoro and Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.

"Australia and the Philippines are close friends and strategic partners... From 25-27 November, our armed forces will conduct the inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines. This represents the practical implementation of our Strategic Partnership," they said.

Marcos and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed a Strategic Partnership in September in Malacañang, establishing an enduring framework for closer cooperation.

"The Maritime Cooperative Activity highlights our shared commitment to exercising freedom of navigation and overflight consistent with international law, in support of a peaceful, secure and stable Indo-Pacific," the joint statement read.

"Australia and the Philippines both support the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirm the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award as final and legally binding on both parties," it added.

“Australia and the Philippines are firmly committed to a peaceful, secure and prosperous region, where sovereignty and agreed rules and norms are respected...The first joint patrol between the Australian Defence Force and Armed Forces of the Philippines demonstrates this important commitment," Marles said. —KG, GMA Integrated News