WASHINGTON -- Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder provided the following readout: Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. of the Philippines at the Pentagon today following their meeting in Manila earlier this year and on the heels of the U.S.-Philippines 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. They celebrated the remarkable strides the United States and the Philippines have recently made to expand and modernize bilateral defense cooperation in support of a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and rules-based international order shared by both countries.
Secretary Austin and President Marcos reaffirmed the United States and the Philippines’ ironclad alliance commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and their shared resolve to defend against armed attacks on their aircraft, public vessels, and armed forces – to include their respective Coast Guards – in the Pacific, including anywhere in the South China Sea. They lauded the conclusion of new U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Defense Guidelines, which chart their vision for alliance cooperation across all operational domains.
The two leaders underscored their shared desire to deepen bilateral planning and operational cooperation including an increased tempo of combined maritime activities, such as joint patrols, to support the Philippines’ lawful exercise of its rights in the South China Sea. Secretary Austin commended President Marcos for successfully hosting the largest-ever iteration of the annual U.S.-Philippines Exercise BALIKATAN last month, which included more than 17,000 participating troops, leveraged three Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites, and featured littoral live fire and cyber defense elements.
President Marcos and Secretary Austin discussed plans to swiftly operationalize the four new EDCA sites in Northern Luzon and Palawan. In addition to the five existing EDCA locations, these new sites will enable combined training, exercises, and other cooperative activities – including to support the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces’ (AFP) maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities – to address a range of shared challenges in the Philippines and across the Indo-Pacific.
Secretary Austin reaffirmed the Department’s commitment to bolstering the Philippines’ defense capabilities as the allies develop a Security Sector Assistance Roadmap to guide shared defense modernization investments over the next five to 10 years. Secretary Austin highlighted near-term plans for the United States to transfer several defense platforms to the Philippines to support the AFP’s continued modernization efforts.
The leaders discussed ways to coordinate more closely with like-minded nations—including Australia and Japan—to strengthen shared principles, including the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and respect for territorial sovereignty. The leaders’ discussion reaffirmed the United States and the Philippines’ enduring commitment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as allies to bring greater security, prosperity, and stability to the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.