MANILA, Philippines - Defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and the United States was among the topics discussed when President Aquino met with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the United States military joint chiefs of staff, in Malacañang.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters that the situation in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippines’ current standoff with China over Scarborough shoal was “broadly discussed.”
The United States reiterated its support for the Philippines’ desire to “achieve a minimum credible defense posture.”
“There was also a discussion on a reiteration of assistance and support for our desire to achieve a minimum credible defense posture and as well, there were some discussions on the current situation in the West Philippine Sea,” del Rosario told reporters at the airport before the President left for London.
“Pinag-usapan po roon ang defense and security cooperation and also… Nagsalita ang mga Amerika to provide us assistance on the minimum credible defense positioning,” Lacierda said.
The Palace said China should not be worried by the meeting, saying the visit is a routine one with the United States being a strategic partner of the Philippines.
“China should not be threatened. It’s part of calling on a strategic partner… It was a broad discussion (on Panatag shoal). No commitments whatsoever,” Lacierda said.
Discussions with China ongoing
Del Rosario denied reports that China has allegedly occupied Scarborough shoal.
He said bilateral negotiations are ongoing to achieve a solution to the current standoff between the Philippines and China, describing the situation as a “work in progress.”
“We’re trying to come up with a solution to that. The bilateral consultations are continuing,” del Rosario said.
“We have honestly tried to deescalate the situation in search of a peaceful solution so we remain faithful to that.”
The President is expected to discuss the situation on the West Philippine Sea when he meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama this week.
The President left Manila at past two in the afternoon Monday.
Of his visit to the United States, the President said in his pre-departure speech: “Susuriin din natin ang kasalukuyang pagtutulungang pangseguridad upang makita kung paano higit pang mapapalakas ang kakayahan ng Pilipinas bilang kanilang kaalyado sa pagpapanatili ng kaayusan sa rehiyong Asya-Pasipiko.”