United States Indo-Pacific Commander meets with Philippine senior officials for 70th anniversary of Mutual Defense Treaty

Thursday, August 26, 2021

US-INDOPACOM chief Admiral John Aquilino and AFP Inspector General Lieutenant General Franco Nemesio Gacal on Monday.
Image: Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Admiral John C. Aquilino, head of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (US-INDOPACOM), arrived in Manila to meet with top Filipino military officials on Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said in a statement.

Among those present in the meeting were Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, Inspector General Lieutenant General Franco Nemesio Gacal of the AFP, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. The visit commemorates the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the United States and the Philippines.

Aquilino reiterated the importance and commitment of the U.S. in maintaining the military alliance with the Philippines. "We remain prepared to fight alongside and defend each other using all of our capabilities to preserve the region's peace and stability," he added.

Gacal agreed and said the armed forces sees the treaty as "the birth of our defense alliance". Gacal was there on behalf of AFP Chief Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr., who wasn't able to attend the meeting due to testing positive for COVID-19. The chief of staff is currently in self-isolation.

The MDT was signed on August 30, 1951. The accord, containing eight articles, states both countries will support each other if an attack by another country occurs on each other's territory, armed forces, public vessels or aircraft.

This is Aquilino's first visit to the country as commander of US-INDOPACOM, Manila Bulletin reported. He also visited the country back in August 2018, as commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet.