MANILA, Philippines — A US Navy warship earlier this week docked in Manila for a routine port visit in continuation of the relationship of the Philippines and the United States as treaty allies.
Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) arrived in the Philippines last Monday.
This would be the first time that a commissioned US Navy warship visited the country since 2019.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, said they appreciate the flexibility to resupply their ships in the Philippines.
“Our US Navy ships’ presence at sea and in ports like Manila promote security and stability that drives the peace and prosperity for the benefit of regional countries,” Thomas said, as quoted by a US Pacific Fleet report.
The warship is deployed under Destroyer Squadron 7 as a support to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 76/Expeditionary Strike Group 7.
As precautions against COVID-19, Charleston’s visit was contactless. Crew members remained aboard the ship while they were provided with replenishment of supplies.
USS Charleston’s port call comes weeks after the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Following a meeting with Austin, President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his order to terminate the decades-old Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows US forces to operate in the country.
“The US security commitment to the Philippines is iron-clad, and that commitment… extends to the South China Sea,” Austin earlier said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, said he does not know the reason behind Duterte’s decision to fully restore the VFA.
“One thing is clear: The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador to the United States [Jose Romualdez have] been actually working for this to happen,” Lorenzana said.
A thread of major developments in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States from January to December 2021. (Presidential photo/Joey Dalumpines and AFP/Angela Weiss)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin lands in Manila as part of his trip to Southeast Asia.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the Pentagon chief will have a formal meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss several issues concerning security and relations.
These include the Visiting Forces Agreement and the West Philippine Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte will meet United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday as part of the latter’s official visit to Southeast Asia.
Austin’s visit to Manila highlights the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the US, the Office of the President says in a statement.
Executive Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez and Presidential Assistant on Foregin Affairs Robert Borje are also expected to attent the courtesy call.
Speaking at the Special ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomes Washington’s open support for the July 2016 Arbitral Award and its commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty.
“It is binding international law and the most authoritative application of UNCLOS on the maritime entitlements of features in the South China Sea. As such, it contributes to the rules-based order in ASEAN and benefits all the countries that use the vital artery that is the South China Sea. The rest is bluster,” Locsin says.
As the Philippines and United States commemorate the 75th year of their diplomatic ties, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law says Washington “is and will forever remain dedicated.”
Speaking at the US Embassy’s celebration of 2021 US Independence Day, Law says he has confidence that the ties between the longtime allies will continue to prosper and thrive.
“Through wars, natural disasters, pandemics, and whatever else may come our way, the US-Philippine relationship is — as Ambassador Romualdez would like to say — Thriving at 75,” he says.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez sees the “light at the end of the tunnel” amid the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of the US government.
In his Independence Day message, Romualdez highlights how Washington assisted the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General as American vaccines make their way to the Philippines either directly or through the COVAX facility.
“This cooperation was strengthened due in large part to the active and compassionate Filipino communities who augmented and broadened our Government’s endeavors,” Romualdez says in a statement.