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Marcos sees sustained peace, stability in South China Sea with PH-US-Japan alliance

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Manila Standard

President Marcos expressed optimism on Saturday (Manila time) that the Philippines’ trilateral alliance with the United States and Japan would usher in sustained peace and stability in the South China Sea.

During his meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III at the Pentagon in Washington DC, Mr. Marcos said the result of his historic trilateral summit with US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida would provide “continuing defense” of international law amid the growing tensions in the SCS.

“We hope that this trilateral agreement, which we formalized yesterday, will be a formalization of an added multilateral support and structure that will make the safety, the peace, and the stability of South China a reality and continue to be a reality,” Marcos said.

“I view the new agreements, and the new partnerships and alliances that we have forged, including the trilateral agreement, not as a response to any particular challenge or threat but merely a continuing development and evolution of the relationship that we have been fostering over a hundred years.”

Austin, for his part, announced that Biden is seeking $128 million in congressional allocation budget to execute projects for Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines.

“President Biden’s new request seeks $128 million to execute 36 projects and enhance defense cooperation agreement size, and that would more than double the amount that we’ve invested in EDCA infrastructure,” he said.

“All these underscores the strength of our alliances further, and so I look forward to hearing your views on how we can keep working together more closely than ever, including through cooperation with like-minded partners.”

Mr. Marcos said his visit to the Pentagon reaffirms the two countries’ strong relations in the face of all of the threats and challenges that confront them.

In a joint statement after their trilateral meeting, Marcos, Biden, and Kishida expressed “serious” concern over China’s “dangerous and aggressive behavior” in the SCS.

The three leaders called on China to abide by the “final and legally binding” 2016 ruling that upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone.

Austin assured Mr/ Marcos of the US’ continued support to the Philippines, emphasizing that the two countries are more than just allies.

“We’re sending our help in any way we can because, as I often said, we’re more than allies, we’re a family,” he told Mr. Marcos. “We’re gonna keep building our partnership.”

Austin said the two nations have achieved great work and cooperation, adding that their alliance “has never been this strong to strengthen interoperability between our forces and to tackle common challenges.”

He cited the two countries’ expanded operational coordination on land, sea, and air.

“This whole cooperation is critical to our collective security and continued prosperity across the region,” Austin said, reiterating Biden’s “ironclad” defense commitment to the Philippines.

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