Australia to provide equipment to PCG, vows continued presence in WPS

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — Australia will provide equipment and training to the Philippine Coast Guard to enhance its capabilities in maritime awareness and protection, a senior Australian official announced Thursday amid simmering tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also said Australia would continue its presence in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, and is open to "cooperating with all our partners to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight."

Australia wants to work with the Philippines to support the "vital contribution" of ASEAN to peace and security in the region, she added.

"We discussed today the ways in which we will enhance cooperation. This includes Australia providing drone equipment, training, and other technology to strengthen your Coast Guard's maritime awareness and protection capabilities," Wong said at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

RELATED: Australia 'deeply committed' to developing strategic partnership with PH

The foreign minister said Australia is also sharing information and providing technical assistance to legislators and government officials to help boost the Philippines' capacity to deal with illegal fishing in the maritime zone.

"The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Defence in his visit here in February spoke about the importance of increased cooperation including increased combined maritime activity such as joint patrols," she said. "Our departments are discussing the best pathway to take this forward and we want to keep working with the Philippines on that."

In February, Australia voiced its support for the country after a Chinese vessel allegedly pointed a military-grade laser at a Philippine boat near Ayungin Shoal.

Earlier this month, Australia's ambassador also expressed worry about the “unprofessional and dangerous conduct” against the Philippines following the near collision of a Chinese ship with a Philippine coast guard vessel which was on sovereignty patrol in the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED: Marcos: PH to propose 'fishing rights map' to China after near-collision in WPS

In a separate interview on CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday, Wong said, "We all want a region in which rules ameliorate the exercise of power and it is through that that countries can maintain their sovereignty and their capacity to make their own decisions."

Planning is also underway for further joint training activities of the two countries' armies.

RELATED: PH-Australia kick off joint army-to-army exercises