By Camille A. Aguinaldo
DEFENSE SECRETARY Delfin N. Lorenzana met with his American counterpart, James N. Mattis, at the Pentagon last Tuesday to highlight the “longstanding friendship and values between the Philippines and the United States.”
In a short video released by the US Department of Defense (DoD), Mr. Mattis was seen welcoming Mr. Lorenzana with a full cordon honor at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Defense agency.
According to the DoD, Mr. Lorenzana “expressed a healthy alliance” between the Philippines and the US, which he said was founded on a history of close engagement.
“The Philippine-US alliance remains robust based on enduring history and close engagement and our unwavering commitment to work together on shared values,” he said.
For his part, Mr. Mattis raised the “deep partnership” between the two countries based on shared democratic values.
“By the middle of the last century, our relationship is frequently characterized as shared respect and affection. As admired Filipino statesman Carlos Romulo observed, our enduring alliance springs, and I quote here, ‘from a common love of liberty, a shared allegiance to democracy and a battle-tested comradeship,’” he said.
The meeting between the two Defense officials came amid the plans of the Philippines to acquire Russian military equipment despite warnings by the US.
Last August, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he received a letter from Mr. Mattis, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., urging him to purchase US military equipment.
The letter came after Mr. Duterte criticized remarks by US Defense Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver against the planned procurement of Russian military equipment.
The Philippines has long depended on the US for military hardware and support. However, Mr. Duterte has recently turned to China and Russia to acquire defense assets for the military.
On Sept. 12, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim met with Mr. Duterte o discuss defense and economic cooperation with the Philippines.