UK defense deal may boost Philippine military modernization program

UK defense deal may boost Philippine military modernization program

A DEFENSE agreement between the Philippines and United Kingdom (UK) could help fast-track Manila’s military modernization program through the latter’s state-of-the-art weapon systems, political analysts said at the weekend.

“London can help bridge the third leg of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ military modernization by introducing its nuclear-powered submarines and sophisticated hardware and software,” Chester B. Cabalza, founding president of Manila-based International Development and Security Cooperation, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“The UK is one of the prime movers in the Indo-Pacific region and given its global reputation and World War victories, the Philippines could gain a lot from the bilateral defense and security of the two democratic countries,” he added.

On. Jan 11, Philippine Ambassador to the UK Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. and UK Minister of State for Defense Timothy Minto signed a deal for defense and security cooperation.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said the framework outlines training and capacity-building, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as research and technology.

Don McLain Gill, who teaches foreign relations at De La Salle University, said the defense pact is crucial because about 12% of the UK’s annual seaborne trade passes through the South China Sea, which is being claimed by China almost in its entirety.

“It is imperative to work with like-minded resident partners toward the security and stability of the maritime territory,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“This is a good opportunity for the Philippines to broaden its defense network and potentially work toward a more comprehensive agreement on capacity-building,” he added.
Britain in December condemned what it called “unsafe and escalatory tactics deployed by Chinese vessels” against the Philippines in the South China Sea.

During a visit to Manila on Jan. 11, German Foreign Minister Annalena Charlotte A. Baerbock said Germany would work with the Philippines in boosting maritime cooperation in the South China Sea and ensure international law is being followed amid tensions with China.

Germany is willing to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Philippines in resolving maritime tensions, she said.

Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno L.P. Marsudi said Indonesia is ready to cooperate with the Philippines to finalize a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened amid Chinese efforts to block Philippine resupply missions at Second Thomas Shoal.

The tensions threaten regional peace, ASEAN Foreign ministers said in December, as they sought freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Last week, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. said the Philippines is seeking to sign an agreement with Japan that would allow the deployment of military forces in each other’s territories.
“The signed agreement to craft a framework for defense and security cooperation is a strong building block to forge missing links in the collective deterrence that Manila and its strategic partners are pushing,” Mr. Cabalza said. — J.V.D. Ordoñez