MANILA - The Philippines and the United States reaffirmed long-standing military ties in a meeting between top military officials from both sides in Quezon City Friday, enhancing defense cooperation.
The 2019 Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) was held in Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. and Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the powerful US Indo-Pacific Command, graced the event, the US Embassy said in a statement.
“Today, we addressed regional security challenges together as friends, allies, and partners,” said Davidson.
“We will continue to stand together on the foundation of common interests and values. Our national security, including economic security, is reliant on a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," he said in the embassy statement.
During the meeting, officials held exchanges about counterterrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, among others.
Madrigal was also presented with the Legion of Merit for "his outstanding contributions to the US-Philippine alliance."
The Legion of Merit is the highest US military decoration that may be awarded to foreign military personnel, the embassy said.
"The enhancement of our defense cooperation is the only way for us to move forward and be prepared for the challenges of this ever-evolving world,” said Madrigal.
The Mutual Defense Board, which started in 1958, and the Security Engagement Board, which started in 2006, act as the central forum for the armed forces of both countries to coordinate and plan military activities for the year ahead, the US embassy said.
The US is the Philippines' closest defense ally, bound together by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that requires both parties to come to each other's aid in case of external aggression.
The two sides hold regular joint military exercises.