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10/09/2009: Defense Secretary Teodoro Secures Continued U.S. Support for Counterterrorism Efforts and Reforms in the AFP

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a meeting with his U.S. counterpart at the Pentagon on 09 September 2009, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gliberto Teodoro was assured by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates of the continued commitment of the U.S. government to support efforts by the Department of Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines to crush terrorists undermining the peace and stability of the country and in undertaking capacity-building efforts for the Philippine Defense Reform Program.

The two officials were pleased with the progress of the security cooperation between Philippine and U.S. military forces and that this has enhanced and further strengthened the Philippine-U.S. strategic partnership and alliance.

A main area of discussion was U.S. government support for the improvement of the capabilities of the Philippine defense establishment, particularly for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  Secretary Teodoro pointed out the need to focus efforts on force build up for internal security operations. Moreover, Secretary Teodoro added that there is a need to enhance the Navy’s Coast Watch South (CWS), in partnership with the US and other countries, in order to deny the use of the Sulu and Celebes Seas by non-traditional maritime threats for illegal activities.

Secretary Gates lauded Secretary Teodoro for his efforts to institutionalize reforms in the Defense Department and in the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDR). In turn, Secretary Teodoro assured the U.S. Defense Secretary that reforms will take root in the organization and thanked him for Washington’s financial assistance and technical support for the PDR.

Secretary Teodoro underscored the significance of US assistance to the Philippines, particularly in relation to the Philippine Government’s infrastructure projects, such as construction of school facilities, water system, farm to market roads, etc., in areas prone to conflict in the Southern Philippines. Secretary Teodoro noted that these projects have greatly improved the quality of lives of the people in Mindanao

Both Defense Secretaries also agreed to explore mutual strategic security interests, particularly in areas considered as non-traditional security threats such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), Climate Change, Drug Trafficking, and Maritime Security. Secretary Teodoro was praised by Secretary Gates for the Philippines’ successful hosting of the first ASEAN Regional Forum on Voluntary Disaster Response (ARF-VDR) last May, which was a Humanitarian Assistance exercise held in Clark Airbase and Manila, and participated in by 26 countries. Secretary Gates underscored the need to sustain the conduct of such activity as a means of improving multilateral coordination and interoperability, most particularly in addressing HADR situations.  Concurring with Secretary Gates, Secretary Teodoro said the DND/AFP will host next year a multilateral exercise for HADR known as “SAGIP.” END.