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PH-Canada defense cooperation

Manila Standard

There’s no doubt we are on the right track in aspiring for a credible defense posture.

But this entails substantial spending by the national government for the acquisition of modern air, naval and land-based assets as well as the training for military personnel that can easily run into hundreds of billions – perhaps even trillions of pesos.

The reality is we have other priorities—infrastructure, education, and health, among others, that also require big budgets.

It makes eminent sense therefore to tap other countries with whom we can boost cooperation for our defense and security needs.

The latest good news along this line is the Philippines and Canada will soon sign a new memorandum of understanding to boost military ties, according to Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

This would allow closer collaboration like training and exercises between the militaries of both countries.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines David Hartman has also confirmed the imminent signing of the MOU: “We are waiting, we have colleagues coming from Canada this week, and we are waiting to receive a little bit of a final direction from our Ministry of National Defense but we hope to have the news to update you very soon.”

Our Defense Secretary has insisted strengthening Philippines-Canada military relations has nothing to do with prevailing tensions in the West Philippine Sea, noting Canada’s stand on the matter is already clear.

“No, and they have already been straightforward about that anyway, they support our stand with the arbitral award and in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The defense relationship between the Philippines and Canada suffered a decline during the previous Duterte administration.

In 2018, then President Duterte canceled a P12-billion contract for the purchase of 16 helicopters from Canada because Ottawa raised concerns the aircraft might be used in the administration’s counterinsurgency campaign.

Last year, our Department of National Defense also moved to forge closer cooperation with Canada on cybersecurity, citing the need to secure confidential computer data systems from unauthorized access, data leakage, and malware.

This year, with our two countries in the final stages of negotiations for an MOU on defense cooperation that would serve as a framework for both defense and military establishments in enhancing interoperability and developing necessary capabilities in addressing the security challenges in the region, we move one step closer to our goal of attaining a credible defense posture to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity as mandated by our Constitution.

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