AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrived in Manila Thursday night on an official visit to elevate Canberra’s bilateral relationship with Manila into a “strategic partnership.”
Prime Minister Albanese intentionally made a brief visit to Manila from Jakarta after attending the Asean Summit in Jakarta for two days, and before heading to India for the G20 Summit.
His main agenda: to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in Malacañang, Australian Ambassador to Manila HK Yu PSM said.
Marcos Jr. also flew to Manila from Jakarta after attending the Asean Summit Thursday night.
“Through our new Strategic Partnership, Australia and the Philippines will seek to expand our defense and maritime cooperation, strengthen counter-terrorism and law enforcement links and facilitate deeper cooperation in a range of areas including climate change, education, development and people-to-people links,” Ambassador Yu said in a published letter which she tweeted.
This is the first ever visit of an Australian prime minister to the Philippines in two decades.
President Marcos Jr. welcomed the Australian leader’s Manila visit to “advance the bilateral relations to a higher and deeper level.”
Albanese and Marcos Jr. met last year at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok. During their bilateral meeting, both leaders decided to elevate the bilateral relationship to strategic partnership.
“(Prime Minister Albanese) presence in Manila this week follows through on that commitment, in the true Australian tradition of putting our words into action,” she said.
With the Strategic Partnership, the armed forces of Australia and the Philippines can have closer and stronger engagements in the future.
The Philippines and Australia have two defense agreements — the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program — that enable their respective defense personnel to train. Last month, Australian and Philippines Marines conducted the first bilateral amphibious activity called Exercise ALON off Palawan and Zambales, in the South China Sea.
“When our leaders sign our Strategic Partnership tomorrow and discuss how we deepen, broaden and strengthen our ties and cooperation for the continuing prosperity of our countries and peoples, I will think about Exercise ALON as one clear example of what this means in practice,” Ambassador Yu said.