MANILA: The Philippines will review a proposed trilateral defense and security deal with two of its closest allies – the United States and Japan.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., in an interview with Kyodo News on Friday, said fostering alliances with its long-time partners was one of “many other issues” raised by the Philippine delegation in Tokyo.
“It is something that we certainly are going to be studying upon my return to the Philippines. I think just part of the continuing process of strengthening our alliances because in this rather confusing, and I dare say dangerous situation, that we have, I’m not talking only about the South China Sea, I’m not only talking about the Indo-Pacific region but, of course, there is a conflict still ongoing in Ukraine and the rather disturbing effects that it has all around the world,” Marcos said.
Marcos added that this is part of a “continuing process to make more solid partnerships and alliances that we are beginning to put together in our areas.”
“So that is, I think, a central element to…providing some sort of stability in the face of all these problems that we are seeing around us,” he said.
Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have earlier agreed to strengthen the two countries defense and security relations.
In a joint statement, the two Asian leaders agreed to “increase the defense capabilities of their respective countries, and further strengthen overall security cooperation.”
This will be done through strategic reciprocal port calls and aircraft visits, transfer of more defense equipment and technology, continuous cooperation on previously-transferred defense equipment, and capacity building.
Earlier, lawmakers called for the review of the proposed trilateral defense and security deal, to be subsequently ratified first by the Senate as required by the Constitution.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chairperson of the Defense and Security committee, acknowledged that the proposed trilateral alliance is rooted in mutually beneficial partnerships.
He, however, pointed out that the government must first ensure the responsibility of protecting and promoting the country's national interest.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, vice chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate should be given the opportunity to fine-tune the dynamics of such an arrangement while recognizing the role of the president in setting the country’s security and foreign relations agenda.
“While this is not a SEATO [Southeast Asia Treaty Organization]-like structure, I support its genesis,” he said in a statement, referring to the group created in 1955 to thwart communist gains in the region but was dissolved in 1977 due to withdrawals and waning interest of members.
Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual assured that several investments sealed between the Philippines and Japan are “ready to go.”
This, after 35 key deals were signed between the Philippine and Japanese governments and business leaders on Friday.
“May mga iba (Some are) ready to go. May mga iba registered na sa BOI [Board of Investments]… na dinocument (Some are registered at the BOI which were documented) to meet the investments,” Pascual said in an interview.
“And there are those that [have] plans… over the time horizon I’ve heard from those Japanese investments I’ve talked to, goes to as long as three years. Normally that’s the time frame within which big investments are made,” he added.
Pascual noted that Japanese car maker Toyota vowed to bring back its popular Tamaraw model to the Philippine market.
“That one is progressing well… they probably have started the final plans to make the investments,” Pascual said.
Toyota said it is “honored to be given an opportunity” to strengthen its partnership with the Philippines.
According to the DTI, 240 Philippine companies and 1,300 Japanese firms, composed of 3,472 businessmen, registered for the meetings held in Tokyo, where a wide range of cooperation was sealed between the Philippine and Japanese governments and business leaders.
$600M investment pledge
Meanwhile, it was revealed Sunday that business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan signed an agreement with major Japanese investor Mitsui & Co. on a USD600-million investment in infrastructure.
“We signed an agreement with Mitsui and several parties and management to commit to investing USD600 million in the infrastructure,” Pangilinan confirmed after a dinner meeting with Marcos on Wednesday.
Mitsui & Co., for its part, said it will continue to explore the possibility of further collaboration with the Philippines in business areas of mutual interest including food and agriculture, renewable energy and digital transformation.
Marcos, likewise, thanked Japanese businesses for their assistance to the Philippines in a wide array of development areas.
“We can point to so many of the developments that happened in the Philippines with the assistance of the different Japanese funding agencies and government-to-government arrangements, the commercial arrangements -- and these have been to the benefit of both our countries,” he said.
“And it is a particularly auspicious time that we come again now simply because we have to now restart our own economies, we have to transform our economies, and again the partnerships I think that we have developed with our friends here in Japan, with Mitsui in particular… we will have to revitalize them as they have been dormant, to a degree, during the lockdowns of the pandemic,” he added.
Source: Philippines News Agency