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06/06/2012: US Senate Wants Greater PH-US Defense Cooperation; Reaffirms Importance of 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty

6 JUNE 2012

Saying Washington is fully committed to honoring its mutual obligations with Manila, the United States Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution calling for increased defense and security cooperation with the Philippines.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said Senate Resolution 481, sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) was approved unanimously by the chamber on the eve of the three-day official working visit to the Washington of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. immediately welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which Senator Lugar introduced in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

The Treaty, which was signed on August 30, 1951, requires both nations to support each other if either the Philippines or the United States were to be attacked by an external party.

“This is a very positive development that further underscores the importance the United States places on its alliance with the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “The Filipino people greatly appreciate this gesture by our friends in the United States Senate.”

Ambassador Cuisia said the resolution calls for increased cooperation and enhanced bilateral security ties between the two countries, including support for Philippine defense modernization, the rotational presence of US forces and increased humanitarian and disaster relief preparedness activities.

It also urged Washington to continue its efforts to assist Manila in the areas of maritime security, maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and related communications infrastructure to enable enhanced information sharing and overall military professionalism.

The resolution mentioned the support the US Government provided the Philippines, particularly the recent turnover to the Philippine Navy of two decommissioned US Coast Guard cutters; the assistance provided by US forces in recent calamities in the country; and the conduct of more military exercises and other training activities with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The resolution also cited the 30 April 2012 meetings where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that Washington remains “fully committed to honoring mutual obligations with the Philippines and that the alliance continues to serve as a pillar of the Philippines-US relationship and a source of stability in the region.”

The resolution also underscored the shared interest of the two countries “in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and transit of people across the seas and subscribe to a rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas through peaceful, collaborative, multilateral and diplomatic processes within the framework of international law.”

“The Senate confirms the alliance’s centrality and enduring value as one of the key pillars of peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and as a key tool in addressing the emerging security environment in the region,” the resolution read.

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts); James Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma); Jim Webb (Democrat, Virginia); Kelly Ayotte (Democrat, New Hampshire); Tad Cochran (Republican, Mississippi) and Daniel Inouye (Democrat, Hawaii), also called on Manila and Washington to continue high-level consultations.

In a statement released by his office, Senator Lugar said:  “The United States–Philippines relationship represents shared sacrifice in defense of freedom. While historically we have worked well together on multiple fronts, it is necessary that the two countries discern new ways to expand trade, account for their mutual defense and promote stability throughout the region.”