President Aquino welcomes US Defense Secretary Hagel in Malacanang
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who emphasized his country's commitment to the "deep and unbreakable" alliance between the Philippines and the United States.
During a courtesy call at the Music Room of Malacanang Palace on Friday, Hagel expressed his gratitude to the Chief Executive for the warm welcome accorded him.
Hagel was sworn in as the 24th Secretary of Defense on February 27, 2013, becoming the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense.
Hagel's visit to the Philippines is seen as a continuing US effort to assure the Philippines that it will help maintain peace in the region amid territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
The President met Hagel in a bid to enhance vibrant relations between the Philippines and the US on various issues of mutual concerns, especially in defense and security matters.
The Philippines is presently negotiating with the United States to institutionalize the policy of increased rotational presence of American troops through a framework agreement.
The negotiations will enable the Philippines and US to conduct activities such as bilateral exercises, including the prepositioning of equipment for disaster response and development of Philippine facilities, among others.
Joining the President in welcoming Hagel were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Yabes, Armed Forces of the Philippine Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop, Foreign Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Gina Jamoralin, among others.
Also in attendance were US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., US Department of Defense Chief of Staff Mark Lippert, Acting Assistant Secretary for Asia Policy Dr. Peter Lavoy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Southeast Asia Vikram Singh and USMC Senior Military Assistant Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser.
Hagel is in Manila in the last leg of a week-long Southeast Asian tour that included Malaysia, Indonesia, and attendance to the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in Brunei before returning to Washington August 30. PND (js)
Gazmin says Philippines and United States continue to seek ways to develop each other’s capabilities for regional peace and stability
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines and the United States (US) continue to seek ways to develop each other’s capabilities to address the security challenges of mutual concern and contribute to regional peace and stability.
"Our alliance remains relevant today as it was before," Gazmin said in his remarks during the press conference on the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Manila held at the Heroes' Hall of Malacanang Palace on Friday.
Hagel is in Manila as part of his four-nation trip to South-East Asia.
"As fellow members of the ASEAN defense ministers’ meeting (ADMM)-plus, which was convened for the second time yesterday (Thursday) in Brunei Darussalam, the defense establishments of our two countries deemed
it important to enhance our relations not only as allies but also as fellow stakeholders of regional security," Gazmin said.
Hagel's visit to Manila coincides with the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty.
"The visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Philippines coincides with an important date for Philippines-U.S. defense relations for it was on August 30, 1951 that the Mutual Defense Treaty was signed," Gazmin said.
"The defense relations between our two countries have evolved since then. From military-to-military relations between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Pacific Command, we have begun conducting policy consultations between our defense establishments," Gazmin added.
In addition to the bilateral strategic dialogue between senior officials from the Defense and Foreign Affairs Departments of the Philippines and the US, which was first held in 2011, Gazmin said the two countries held the two-plus-two ministerial consultations between the secretaries of the Philippine and U.S. Defense and Foreign Affairs Departments in April 2012.
Gazmin said the Philippines and US Defense departments are focusing on key areas of cooperation, including maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response, and cyber security and information sharing.
"Indeed, after more than 60 years, the alliance between the Philippines and the U.S. remain relevant as we continue to enhance our capacity to address current concerns and emerging security issues. Thus, we shall continue to work closely to promote our common interests as well as peace and stability in the region," he stressed. PND (js)
US Defense Secretary says he had productive meeting with President Aquino, assures that U.S. remains committed to further develop ties with the Philippines
United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had a productive meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday and assured that the US remains committed to further develop its close ties with the Philippines.
"In my meeting with President Aquino, I noted that the deep and unbreakable alliance between United States and Philippines is an anchor for peace and stability and prosperity in this region," Hagel said in his remark during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin held at the Heroes' Hall of Malacanang Palace.
"Our close ties with the Philippines have been forged through history of shared sacrifice and common purpose, and continuing to strengthen the close partnership between our nations is an important part of America’s long-term strategy of re-balancing in the Asia Pacific,” he said.”
Hagel is in Manila as part of his four-nation trip to South-East Asia. During his visit, Hagel paid a courtesy call on the Chief Executive at the Music Room of Malacanang Palace on Friday.
"One thing that I want to emphasize is that United States is committed to the mutual defense treaty between our nations. It was borne out of Americans and Filipinos fighting shoulder-to-shoulder during World War II, and it has formed the foundation of the US-Philippines security relationship for more than 60 years," Hagel stressed.
Hagel's visit to the Philippines is seen as a continuing US effort to assure the Philippines that it will help maintain peace in the region amid territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. PND (js)
US Defense Chief Hagel reaffirms commitment for greater US-Philippine military cooperation
Visiting United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the ongoing discussions on a Framework Agreement that will allow wider US military presence in the Philippines for greater regional stability.
In a statement following his meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III Friday in Malacanang, Hagel said the agreement will strengthen cooperation between the two countries militarily and help them work together more effectively.
“So, both now and the future, that relationship will strengthen,” Hagel said adding that “this progress is welcomed and encouraging. I noted that negotiating teams are working hard to finish the Framework Agreement in the near future.”
The US official also assured that the United States doesn’t seek permanent bases in the Philippines and instead use a new model of military-to-military cooperation suited for the US and the Philippines military partnership.
Hagel said that the US looks to increase its rotational presence in the Philippines as what America did recently in Singapore and Australia.
“Such an arrangement would benefit both our militaries by increasing our ability to train and operate together. Deepening engagement opportunities between our forces will further support President Aquino’s defense modernization agenda,” the US defense official said.
Hagel said the US has a great deal of experience in building a modern military and his country is willing to share what it learned in the past to its Filipino allies.
Hagel stressed that he discussed with President Aquino the situation in the South China Sea, an issue which the United States and its partners hope to resolve through peaceful means and without coercion.
The US, he said, supports ASEAN’s efforts to negotiate the South China Sea Code of Conduct, which will help peacefully-manage disagreements and tensions arising from competing territorial and maritime claims.
Hagel encouraged claimant nations to peacefully resolve their disputes to internationally accepted mechanisms in accordance with international law including the Law of the Sea.
Hagel said the US supports the Philippines’ efforts to solve its dispute by bringing the issue to international arbitration.
The US Defense Secretary arrived in Manila as part of his four-nation trip to South-East Asia. His visit to the Philippines coincides with the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty on August 30, 1951. PND (as)
United States Defense Secretary says U.S. seeks international coalition in response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons
United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that the US is presently seeking an international coalition in response to the move of Syria of reportedly using chemical weapons.
During a joint press conference held at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang Palace on Friday, Hagel emphasized the need to seek consultations with its allies in response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.
The Syrian government forces are accused of being behind a chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21 that reportedly killed hundreds of people.
"As to an international effort and collaboration, it is the goal of President (Barrack) Obama and our government to whatever decision is taking, that it be an international collaboration and an effort," Hagel said.
"We are continuing to consult with the British as we are with all of our allies and partners; and that consultation includes ways forward together on our response to this chemical weapons attack in Syria," he stressed.
Hagel said Washington respected the position of the British parliament in rejecting participation in any punitive strikes against Syria's regime.
The British government was defeated by just 13 votes in the House of Commons in its bid for a "strong humanitarian response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
"First, every nation has responsibility to make their own decisions, and we respect that of any nation. The British have been very strong in condemning the Syrian regime’s used of chemical weapons. And that vote in the parliament doesn’t change that. And that’s a very significant position for any nation to take publicly," Hagel stressed.
"So, our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together and I think you’re seeing a number of countries publicly state their position on the use of chemical weapons," he concluded. PND (js)
Aquino leads PSG change of command ceremony
President Benigno S. Aquino III attended Friday the change of command of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) at Malacanang Park recognizing PSG’s contribution to nation building.
In his message during the event, the President told the members of the PSG to continue traversing the righteous path in the remaining years of the Aquino administration.
“Bilang mga lingkod-bayan, nananatili ang hamon sa atin ng sambayanang Pilipino na ibandera ang tapat at mabuting pamamahala,” he said.
“Huwag nating bibiguin ang ating mga Boss; pangunahan, at igabay natin sila sa landas ng ganap at malawakang pagbabago ng Pilipinas.”
The President praised outgoing PSG chief Brig. Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon for reforming the PSG and maintaining its dignity and dedication to service.
To the incoming PSG head, Navy Capt. Raul Ubando, the President said the new PSG leadership will inherit a dedicated and capable security force. He said he expects the new PSG chief to continue the reform measures carried out by Dizon.
Ubando, the first head of the PSG to come from the Philippine Navy, is a graduate of Philippine Military Academy. He earned his Masters in Management from the Philippine Christian University in Manila. Ubando was commissioned in the navy in 1985.
Early in his career, Ubando served the navy ship Rajah Lakandula and after the EDSA People Popwer Revolution, he was assigned at the BRP Ang Pangulo. In 1988, he was assigned to BRP Quezon based in Palawan.
Ubando’s first stint at the PSG was in December 1989 under former President Corazon Aquino. In 1999 he was reassigned to his mother unit.
In June 2010, in his second tour of duty in the PSG, Ubando was designated as the Deputy Group Commander. In October 2012, he became the senior military/aide-de-camp of President Aquino.
Ubando is a recipient of numerous military awards and decorations both in combat and administration such as the Distinguished Service Stars, Bronze Cross Medal, Military Merit Medal, and Military Civic Action Medal.
He is married to Ms Annie Untalan and with two children Abigail and Ralph Kevin.
Organized in 1986, the PSG ensures the security of the President, his Cabinet, the official family, visiting dignitaries and the Palace complex. Under President Aquino, the PSG conducted more than 3,000 security operations both in the Philippines and abroad.
Also present during Friday’s event were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino and officials of the armed services. PND (as)