Celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations, Australia and the Philippines strengthened their defence and whole-of-government ties with a number of activities as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 (IPE21).
CAPTION: Personnel from HMAS Canberra deliver personal protective equipment to Manila, Philippines, during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021. Story by Captain Peter March. Photo by Petty Officer Christopher Szumlanski.
As they transited to Manila, HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac last month joined the Philippine Navy Ship Antonio Luna in the annual Exercise Lumbas, which focused on training and interoperability.
Deputy Commander IPE21 Captain Constancio Reyes, Philippine Navy, was embarked in Canberra for the first five weeks of the trip and said he was pleased by the success of the exercise.
CAPTION: Philippine Navy Ship Antonio Luna sails past HMAS Canberra during Exercise Lumbas maritime manoeuvres. Photo by Leading Seaman Nadav Harel.
“This activity demonstrates the increasing mutual trust and cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Captain Reyes said.
“I’m impressed that both navies were able to deliver the objectives of Lumbas, through the different serials, with perfect execution.”
Once alongside in Manila, one of the key activities was the delivery of medical equipment to five infectious disease wards at the Victoriano Luna Medical Center that will be used to treat Armed Forces of the Philippines members and their families affected by COVID-19.
The official, contactless handover ceremony took place on the wharf in the shadow of Canberra, with those in attendance treated to the Australian Army Band’s performance of both nations’ national anthems.
Royal Australian Navy nursing officer Lieutenant Christian Aca-Ac, who attended the virtual seminar on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief held as part of the joint activities, said he appreciated the opportunity to engage with Australia’s Filipino partners.
“I really feel blessed with the situation that I’m in, having been born in the Philippines, then spending most of my life in Australia, to serve my country that I have called home and be able to give back to the country of my heritage is really a unique experience,” Lieutenant Aca-Ac said.
This is the third tranche of Australian support to the Philippines since the COVID-19 pandemic began, demonstrating Australia’s commitment to deepening and strengthening the bilateral relationship through thick and thin.
While alongside in Manila, the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines held a VIP dinner to celebrate the 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which Commander IPE21 Commodore Mal Wise and Captain Constancio Reyes attended virtually to deliver speeches.
IPE21’s virtual workshops on women, peace and security, and amphibious capability were also well-received.