MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzu Abe agreed on Thursday to enhance maritime and security cooperation including counterterrorism between the Philippines and Japan.
“As proven defense and long time partners, the Philippines and Japan are committed to further expand and deepen our relations across a broad range of areas. We had an active discussion on enhancing of maritime and security cooperation,” President Duterte said in a joint statement after a summit meeting at the Malacanang Palace.
“As maritime nations, the Philippines and Japan have a shared interest in keeping our waters safe and security from threats of any kind,” he added.
Abe, along with his wife Madame Akie Abe, is in the country for a two-day official visit that also include a historic visit in Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte, on Friday.
As a result of Abe’s first visit in the Philippines under Duterte administration, the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) signed Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) which involves the maritime cooperation to promote maritime safety, security and marine environment protection.
The MOC will be done through joint exercises, visits by patrol vessels and aircraft, and capacity enhancement.
The Philippines and Japan also signed Exchange of Notes (EN) on the economic and social development grant worth JPY 600 million (PHP258 million) for the purchase of high-speed boats and other counter-terrorism equipment for PCG.
“Capacity-building and assets acquisition and upgrading will be a centerpiece of this collaboration. We hope to fast-track the delivery of the Philippines of key assets already in the pipeline and the acquisition of new ones,” President Duterte said.
“As we seek these new innovations to the Philippines’ capabilities, we will continue to forge ahead with our efforts to advance the rule of law in order to secure the waters in our regions,” he added.
For his part, Abe emphasized the importance of strengthening counter-terrorism mechanism to assure safe and peaceful society.
“We will strengthen cooperation in the area of counterterrorism in order to realize a society in which it is possible for youths to entertain hopes,” Abe said through an interpreter.
President Duterte described his meeting with Abe as ‘productive’ where the two leaders discussed ways for further strengthening bilateral ties.
“By any measure, this visit is historic and sets the bar for constructive engagements. If my visit to Tokyo defined the solid and strategic partnerships of the Philippines and Japan then Prime Minister Abe’s visits to Manila and Davao renew the commitment to further strengthen the solid and strategic partnership toward greater peace, progress, and prosperity,” Duterte said.
“I am humbled by this demonstration of friendship and look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Abe on all matters of mutual interest,” he added.
Abe said he looks forward to also further enhance friendly ties between the Philippines and Japan and “to cooperate towards regional stability and prosperity.”