MANILA - Amid the country’s ongoing dispute with China, President Benigno Aquino III said he has discussed defense and security cooperation with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Both leaders met today in Malacanang for a luncheon in President Tan’s honor. The Singapore president began his four-day state visit late Wednesday.
“President Tan and I also discussed our countries’ defense and security cooperation, which includes high-level training, educational, and intelligence exchanges,” Aquino said.
He said the country also proposed the holding of a “Defense Dialogue” in order to strengthen the cooperation between the two nations.
“We also welcomed the opportunity to host this year’s Asian Defense and Security exhibition on July 16 to 18, 2014. I believe that strengthening defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore is key to maintaining regional stability,” he stressed.
The Philippines recently filed a 4,000-page written argument before an arbitral tribunal over the West Philippine Sea ownership. China was unfazed, however, claiming the Philippines is not using the proper diplomatic strategy to discuss the territorial row.
Meanwhile, Aquino said he also discussed with Tan the revival of the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan.
“[It is] as a mechanism for expanding bilateral discussions between our countries. The Action Plan provides a consolidated framework for strengthening our bilateral cooperation, covering expansive areas including trade and investments, information technology, education, culture, defense, and people-to-people exchanges. I look forward to the implementation of initiatives in these areas, knowing that it will have a positive impact on relations between the Philippines and Singapore,” he said.
He also thanked Singapore for its help in the Yolanda aftermath.
“Singapore was one of the first countries to reach out to the Filipino people in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan—and the assistance that their people and government gave is deeply appreciated. Singapore deployed a Civil Defense Force team to assist the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities,” Aquino said.