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Australia says it will help strengthen Philippine maritime security

Australia says it will help strengthen Philippine maritime security

- Drone equipment, training, technology to be provided to strengthen capabilities of Philippine Coast Guard, says Australian foreign minister

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Australia on Thursday said that it will help strengthen the Philippine maritime security to “support peace and security in our region.”

The announcement was made by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong after visiting the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) National Headquarters at Port Area, Manila.

"Australia is working with the Philippines to support peace and security in our region. Today, in Manila, I announced we are enhancing our maritime cooperation - providing drone equipment, training and technology to strengthen @coastguardph (Philippine Coast Guard) capabilities," Wong said on Twitter.

"The Philippines has an important role in the continued stability and security of our region. We both want to see a region that is peaceful and where international law is respected," she added.

The development came after the US and the Philippines also recently announced to expand maritime cooperation.

During her visit, Wong also met with PCG Commandant Adm. Artemio M Abu and discussed the opportunities to improve the efficacy of the Philippines and Australia's existing maritime law enforcement cooperation and future training and workshops for personnel, PCG said in a separate statement

"The Philippine Coast Guard is indeed grateful for all the assistance that Australia has given from vessel acquisition, maritime domain awareness, and other capability development programs, human resource development and other capacity building program, and most especially the sustainment of PCG vessels under the Marine Resources Initiative Program," Admiral Abu said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Foreign Ministry said that Wong also announced $89.9 million Australian dollars ($59.7 million) as official development assistance to the Philippines for 2023-24.

She announced the financial assistance to support economic growth, education, training and scholarships, disaster and climate resilience, and peace and stability in Mindanao during her meeting with her Filipino counterpart.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ military chief, Gen. Andres C Centino, visited a remote island in Palawan province near the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea and spoke to soldiers.

The visit came in the wake of a recent sea encounter between Filipino and Chinese maritime vessels.

“I would rely on you to do your job here in Western Command, making sure to do your duties to secure the area. I would also like to assure you that our national leadership has been supportive of our desire to really improve our capability to defend our territory,” Centino said.

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