MANILA - Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said Wednesday he supports proposals for the country to forge visiting forces agreements (VFA) with Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea.
Speaking to reporters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Brawner said that the Philippines’ partnership with “allied nations” will be mutually beneficial.
“This is not the stand of the Philippine Army but my personal stand. I believe it would be beneficial for our country if we allow more of our partners and our allies to come to the country to train with us, not to stay here to establish bases, but more so we could train with them,” he said.
“It would be beneficial not just for the Philippine government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but also for their armed forces. It will be mutually beneficial," he added.
Brawner was reacting to the statement of Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to forge defense and security cooperation deals not only with Japan, but with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea as well.
The Army chief noted the importance of interoperability of various armies.
“Nowadays, the trend of armed forces around the world is really to be able to operate with other armies. Interoperability is important. If we look at the conflicts happening around the world, for instance, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, interoperability is very important,” Brawner said. “It has to start with training.”
Talks about a possible VFA between the Philippines and Japan surfaced as Marcos embarked on a five-day working visit to Tokyo last week.
The Philippines currently has a VFA with the United States.
For Brawner, the VFA with Japan will further strengthen the Philippines’ humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations as soldiers train with Japanese forces.
“About the agreement the president had with the Japanese government… from the side of the Philippine Army, we are really supportive of this. It will allow troops from Japan to come to the Philippines to do exercises, particularly on HADR,” the Army chief said.
“For your information, the troops we sent to Turkey… were trained and equipped by the Japanese government. We would welcome more trainers to come into the country,” he added.
“If we can train the entire Army and our reservists to do HADR in a world standard, then it would be beneficial not just for our country, but our countrymen."