U.S. extends wide-ranging aid to PHL


THE United States is coming back full throttle to the Philippine stage with an all-out commitment to help its oldest ally in the region meet its military, economic and environmental needs and achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a middle-income economy by year 2040.

The US announced a whole range of specific deliverables after the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington D.C. Tuesday (Wednesday PH time) with Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin III of the US, and Enrique Manalo and Carlito Galvez of the Philippines.

The four foreign and defense ministers followed up on each other’s commitments made in January 2023 to deepen their bilateral relationship on defense, climate and energy, food security, maritime affairs, civil space cooperation, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, as well as democracy and human rights.

“We have reached a number of key understandings that the Philippines believes will truly elevate our relationship and translate into direct, substantial, and tangible benefits for our peoples and countries,” Manalo said.

The following are the highlights of their talks:


• Over US$200 million (P11.2 billion) of US assistance to double the Philippines’s capacity on defense;

• Additional $100 million (P5.5 billion) to buy medium-lift helicopters under Foreign Military Financing;

• Fast-tracking discussions on an acquisition plan for a fleet of multirole fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force;

• Prioritizing the modernization of “shared defense capabilities” especially in maritime domain;

• Over $100 million (P5.5 billion) infrastructure investments at the existing five military sites where US soldiers can preposition troops and equipment under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and support the building of additional four new sites before the end of 2023;  Finalizing the conduct of “joint sails” by the US and Philippine navies in the South China Sea; Adopting the Security Sector Assistance Roadmap in the coming months to identify defense modernization investments in the Philippines and timeline of priority areas for the next 5 to 10 years. The priority defense platforms include: radars, unmanned aerial systems, military transport aircraft, and coastal and air defense systems; Conduct of high-impact and high-value joint exercises, trainings, and other activities;

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to complement war games with community projects such as increasing access to safe water supplies, education, and healthcare, sustainable fisheries management, biodiversity conservation, and energy security; Fast-tracking discussions under the new US-Philippines Bilateral Defense Guidelines; Expanding information-sharing through the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness initiative; Concluding bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) before yearend for real-time information-sharing and technology cooperation across domains;  “Increase strategic convergence” on counterterrorism and address “gray zone” challenges such as critical infrastructure attacks.


THE US supported the Philippine objection to China’s “unlawful maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features, threatening and provocative activities” in the South China Sea. This includes China’s recent massing of maritime vessels within the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone and harassment of Filipino Navy, Coast Guard and fishermen going to the Ayungin Shoal where a vintage Philippine ship was grounded. The joint statement also “noted with concern” the covert land reclamation being conducted on unoccupied rocks and reefs in the Spratlys.

Austin reiterated that the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty applies to armed attacks on either of our armed forces, our aircraft, or public vessels anywhere in the South China Sea. He emphasized that the scope would include Coast Guard vessels as well.

Highlights: Expanding the scope of the Mutual Defense Treaty to include other domains such as space and cyberspace. Both countries highlighted their intent to “work toward building interoperability” on those aspects.

Plans to conduct “multilateral maritime activities with other like-minded partners” such as Australia and Japan in the South China Sea later this year Partnerships and arrangements in the Indo-Pacific should uphold ASEAN centrality; Consultations on Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) trilateral security partnership;  “Welcomed” the Quad’s commitment to support a peaceful and stable, rules-based region with ASEAN at the center, through its efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific; Joint training and capacity building, including for counterpart nations’ coast guards; and The Philippines can “observe and/or participate” in trilateral and multilateral exercises, and the Japan-Philippines-US Trilateral Defense Policy Dialogue can continue.

Economic and Environmental Security

HELPING the Philippines achieve its “ambitious goal” to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 75 percent by 2030; Partnering with private sector on offshore wind development; Development of nickel and cobalt facilities and increasing cooperation on “green mining” to sustainably process minerals for clean energy transition; Energy Policy Dialogue—high-level meeting to develop short- and long-term energy sources such as offshore wind, rooftop solar capabilities, nuclear energy for electricity generation, grid stability, power transmission; Pursuing negotiations for a potential nuclear cooperation agreement (“123 agreement”) to enable the US to share technical knowledge, nuclear material and equipment, as well as help the Philippines with small modular reactors; Providing technical assistance and regulatory guidance to support the growth of the Philippines’s civil nuclear energy program; Helping the Philippine private sector in infrastructure investments; Feasibility study on airport security screening at the Manila International Airport; Smart Grid Reverse Trade Mission to bring Philippine grid operators to the United States; Healthcare workshop on medical device regulatory frameworks; Future workshop on subsea cables; Building the Philippines’ capacities to strengthen Philippine investment screening and countering proliferation finance mechanisms to allow for transparent and accountable review of certain foreign investments and protect national security while maintaining an open and business-friendly investment climate; Developing and building resilient Philippine and US semiconductor industries; Improving the ability to prevent, detect, respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases; Before end of 2023, US and Philippine scientists to meet on virology and vaccines, combating non-communicable diseases, and ridge-to-reef cooperation.

Food security

Exchanging best practices for agricultural innovation, sustainability and transforming food systems with nutritious crops adaptive to climate change, improve soil health and strengthen value chains;US-Philippines Food Security Dialogue later this year.

Disaster preparedness, protection and conservation of the Philippines’ rich coastal and marine resources.

Civil space bilateral dialogue in Washington by July 2023, to promote use of space-based technology for climate resilience;

“Deepen” economic ties through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) such as increasing training in data science and artificial intelligence, where women have been under-represented, and boosting digital literacy rates.