India seeks to beef up defense, maritime ties with Philippines

Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2023 07:30 PM

MANILA -- India is discussing various areas of engagements with the Philippines with regard to defense and maritime cooperation, its ambassador to the Philippines Shambu Kumaran said Friday.

“I think, it’s very logical that large countries, fellow democracies in the Indo-Pacific such as India and the Philippines will build a defense partnership... Without attributing to any one motivation, we obviously would like the region to have an evolution that is rules-based, that does not side step the interests of smaller states, and that coercion and shall we say resort to aggressive maneuvers are avoided because we all have a common stake in this region,” Kumaran said.

Last year, the Philippines signed an agreement with India for the procurement of a shore-based anti-ship missile system. 

The two countries also have a Joint Defense Cooperation Committee and the Joint Defense Industry and Logistics Committee. 

Kumaran also met with Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro a few days ago and had “a very substantive discussion with regard to the broad agenda of defense cooperation and security partnership.” 

Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu also visited India recently and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on enhanced maritime cooperation with the Indian Navy Chief.

The MOU involves cooperation on law enforcement, environmental protection, search and rescue and maritime domain awareness. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were also signed to operationalize another MOU signed in 2019 for the exchange of white shipping information.

“So what will happen with this new SOP that was signed between the Indian Chief of Navy and Admiral Abu, is that it will allow us to have a pathway to transfer of information and therefore help both countries have bigger awareness of what is happening in the maritime domain. So really, to summarize, this is an important phase of our maritime security and maritime affairs engagement, as you can see,” Kumaran said.

Earlier, Kumaran expressed solidarity with the Philippine sentiment on the new standard map of China, featuring the 10-dash line.

“We reject this effort… I would express my solidarity with the sentiment in the Philippines with regard to such efforts that I would call ‘cartographic expansionism’,” he said.

The new map, released by the Chinese Ministry on Natural Resources, encroaches on the maritime boundaries of several countries in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the Indian territories of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin regions on its eastern border with China.