PHL committed to beefing up defense ties with New Zealand

MANILA — The Philippines is committed in strengthening and deepening its defense ties with New Zealand.

This was emphasized by Department of National Defense (DND) undersecretary Cardozo Luna during the Bilateral Defense Talks (BDT) held in Manila last March 6.

Present during the BDT was New Zealand Defense Minister Helen Quilter. Both nations have a bilateral defense cooperation agreement signed in 2012.

During the meeting, Luna expressed his appreciation to New Zealand’s contribution in the building up the capacity of Philippine defense forces even as he noted that bilateral relations are pursued within the ambit of multilateral platforms particularly the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.

As this develops, Quilter conveyed that New Zealand looks forward to working with the Philippines once more as co-chair for 2017-2020 of the newly established ADMM-Plus Expert Working Group on Cyber Security.

She also recalled how the co-chairmanship of the Philippines and New Zealand in 2011-2014 of the ADMM-Plus EWG on Peacekeeping Operations resulted in productive undertakings that contributed in enhancing the capacity of ADMM-Plus members pursue peacekeeping operations.

Provided with an out brief of the Mutual Assistance Program Talks held earlier in by their respective military officials, Luna and Quilter commended the resulting program of action crafted by the two sides, noting the shared sense by the New Zealand and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) representatives that the MAP Talks was a tangible manifestation of the common desire to reinvigorate military-to-military interaction.

The talks took full cognizance of the needs of the AFP given the changed security environment and what NZ could offer given recent developments in the strategic landscape.

Beyond assessing the current state of bilateral defense relations and exploring ways to move the relationship forward, both defense officials likewise exchanged view on matters of common concern to include maritime security, the interactions of major powers in the Asia-Pacific and combating terrorism and violent extremism.