SFA, US CDA formalize AMSAR pact
SECRETARY of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and United States Embassy Chargé d’affaires John C. Law signed the Philippines united States Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (AMSAR) Agreement on July 30.
The AMSAR Agreement provides delimitations on the searchand-rescue regions of the Philippines and the US. It fosters stronger bilateral links in the field of maritime as well as aeronautical search and rescue, while enhancing both countries’ effectiveness in assisting persons, vessels, aircraft or other craft in distress.
The Department of Transportation and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with support from the Philippine Coast Guard, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the National Coast Watch Center, and the Department of National Defense, negotiated the AMSAR agreement from September 25 to 26, 2018.
The signing of the agreement stands as proof of the Philippines’s commitment to upholding its obligations under international conventions and treaties. At the same time, it will help boost the country’s capability to conduct search-and-rescue operations, while saving lives.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who was in Manila for a visit, and Vice Admiral Eduardo D. Fabricante of the Philippine Coast Guard, witnessed the signing. All parties considered the event as another milestone in both countries’ two-way ties.
THE following day, Locsin met Austin at the DFA Headquarters. The latter reaffirmed the commitment
of the US to their alliance, as the Philippines is its oldest security treaty ally in the region.
The US secretary bolstered his country’s commitment to continuing support for the Philippines’s defense-capabilities enhancement—especially for maritime security, counterterrorism and disaster response. He noted that the Philippines remains key to securing US interests in the region—particularly in maintaining peace and stability.
The two also discussed challenges brought about by the pandemic to the present security architecture, and agreed to work more closely to address these hurdles. Austin reiterated his country’s support to the local pandemic response.
Locsin recognized that the US continues to play an important role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-pacific region. He noted that the two countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of their bilateral relations, and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty this year. He expressed hopes that their alliance will grow more robust and responsive to emerging threats and challenges in the decades ahead on the strength of their shared histories, mutual respect, and commitment to democratic values.
WHILE in Manila, Austin also met President Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana with Law, as the former emphasized the centrality of the broadbased Us-philippine partnership within the Indo-pacific region.
Following their meeting, Lorenzana announced the Chief Executive’s decision to recall the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
During his engagements, the US secretary expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the July 4 C-130 airplane crash, and discussed further strengthening bilateral security ties, supporting Philippine rights in the South China Sea/ West Philippine Sea, and US vaccine assistance to the Philippines.
During his two-day trip, Austin also visited the American Battle Monuments Commission at the Manila American Cemetery, where he laid a wreath to honor the more than 17,000 fallen US and Filipino soldiers buried there, toured the US Department of Veterans Affairs Manila Outpatient Clinic, and conversed with military veterans receiving healthcare services.
The Philippines was the final stop in his three-country Indopacific trip, following visits to Singapore and Vietnam, where he engaged with Southeast Asian partners to underscore the enduring US commitment to Asean, as well as a free and open Indo-pacific region.
In a statement, the embassy said the US welcomes the president’s decision to recall the abrogation: “We strongly believe that the VFA, and the broader alliance that [it] enables, strengthens not only the security of our two nations, but also the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-pacific.
Austin concluded: “A strong, resilient Us-philippine alliance will remain vital to the security, stability, and prosperity of the Indopacific. A fully restored VFA will help us achieve that goal together.”