MANILA — The visit of Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles will be relevant in the country's retort to China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said on Wednesday.
Marles went to Malacañang for a courtesy visit to Marcos, during which they discussed strengthening of the two countries' alliance and defense ties.
The president also vowed to continue upholding the rule of law and sovereignty.
"I truly believe that the future lies in strong alliances and in a united front in promoting again the values that we consider important to our countries," Marcos said.
"This is extremely important that we are seeing constantly in consultation, and we are seeing to continuously promote the rule of law and the sovereignty of nations," he added.
Marcos noted that the visit of Marles "will be an important part of the response" to the recent acts by the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Marles earlier in the day held a joint briefing at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to show the Australian government's commitment in deepening the two countries' bilateral defense relations.
"As Deputy Prime Minister Marles said, Australia's relationship across the region are founded on history, personal connections and shared interest," said Galvez.
This came weeks after the Chinese Coast Guard pointed military-grade lasers against Filipino sailors, flaring tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
The laser incident happened on Feb. 6 nearly 20 kilometers from Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the Spratly Islands, where Philippine marines are stationed in a derelict navy ship grounded to assert Manila's territorial claim in the waters.
Marcos, Jr. on Saturday said he will not invoke the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty that allows Washington to aid Manila even if the incident happened.