Visiting Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III has assured Mindanao military officials of the United States’s continued support for the Philippines’s counterterrorism efforts.
Austin arrived in the country on Tuesday night for a 2-day official visit before he would leave for South Korea. He is expected to meet with his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez Jr. today, Thursday, for a meeting.
During his visit to Mindanao on Wednesday accompanied by top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines led by chief of staff, Gen. Andres Centino, Austin assured continued support to the Philippine military’s counterterrorism drive.
“The emphasis is they are here to support us in counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” said Major General Roy Galido, commander of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) following their meeting with the US defense official.
Aside from visiting the headquarters of the Westmincom and conferring with military officials led by Centino and Galido, Austin also visited a small team of US Special Forces who are helping the Philippine military in counterterrorism operations in Mindanao.
The US forces are headquartered inside the compound of the Westmincom.
In today’s meeting with Galvez, Austin is expected to revisit the US-Philippines defense alliance and strengthen the security relations between the two countries.
Reports from the US said he is also expected to discuss the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the pending request by the US for five additional military sites where the US Forces can stay for their rotational presence under the EDCA.