Philippines, Canada sign memorandum for defense cooperation

January 21, 2024 - 10:31 AM
Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, David Bruce Hartman (2nd left), and Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. (right) show the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Defense Cooperation between the two nations on Friday (Jan. 19, 2024). The MOU jumpstarts cooperation between the defense and military establishments of Philippines and Canada on military education, training exchanges, among others. (DND via PNA)

The Philippines and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation on Friday, a move which Manila’s defense minister said could later lead to a troop pact between the two countries.

“I’m glad to hear that there is a strong intention on both sides to deepen and strengthen the relationships by forging new milestones in our defense relations to culminate, perhaps, with the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a statement.

Teodoro didn’t say what form or shape a possible VFA with Canada will take, but an existing VFA that the Philippines has with the United States allows the rotation of thousands of American troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises.

The memorandum, the defense ministry said, would jumpstart cooperation between the defense and military establishments of both countries on military education, training exchanges, information sharing, peacekeeping operations and disaster response.

“The strongest assets we have are the mutual trust and confidence that we have in one another…and because we are dealing with each other in a straightforward, open, and on a rules-based manner, such trust is reinforced and will surpass political changes and the tests of time,” Teodoro added.

Canada has supported the Philippines in the face of China’s increased assertiveness in the South China Sea, backing a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that said China’s South China Sea claims had no legal basis. China rejects that finding.

The signing of the memorandum followed the signing in October of an arrangement between the Philippines and Canada for the use of Ottawa’s Dark Vessel Detection (DVD) system to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by vessels that have switched off their location transmitters to evade detection.

The DVD system will also enhance the Philippines‘ maritime domain awareness over its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, where it has had a series of maritime confrontations with China.

— Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan