President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday signed a comprehensive partnership agreement in a bid to strengthen the relationship of the two countries.
In a joint press statement, Aquino said the declaration acknowledges the “long legacy of cooperation” between the two nations since 1946.
“Since 1946, the Philippines and Australia have cooperated in all aspects of our relations, including that of humanitarian assistance and disaster response. It is this long legacy of cooperation that we pay tribute to today, in signing the Joint Declaration on Philippines-Australia Comprehensive Partnership,” Aquino said.
“The Declaration acknowledges the increasing breadth and depth of our relations, which sets the tone, pace, and direction of our relationship in the years ahead,” he added.
Aquino and Turnbull also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority of the Republic of the Philippines and Department of Education and Training of the Government of Australia.
The MOU was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Ambassador William Thomas Ross Tweddell.
Aquino said he and Turnbull discussed how the two countries can improve bilateral relations and engagement on regional and international issues.
“We reaffirmed the importance of engagement and cooperation in the political, defense and security, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism fields, among others,” Aquino said.
“We also exchanged views on regional security challenges, including maritime security, and, with this, committed to continue our bilateral consultations on how to address them,” he added.
Australia committed to activities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Australian Defense Force “to build trust and confidence and enhance interoperability.”
The Australian government recently turned over two landing vessels to the Philippine Navy.
“These are significant assets not only to our defense, but also and more importantly, to our disaster response capabilities,” Aquino said.
Turnbull said he appreciates the commitment of the Philippines to the rule of law in the region. CATHERINE S. VALENTE