WESCOM commander Vice Adm. Rene Medina (left) welcomes Admiral Phil Davidson (right) at their headquarters in Barangay San Miguel on September 11, 2019. Davidson is the 25th commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. (Photo courtesy of WESCOM)

The commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command visited Palawan on September 11 and met with Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Adm. Rene Medina as part of the itinerary for exploring new avenues of cooperation and interaction with allies for capacity and capability build-up.

Admiral Phil Davidson, 25th commander of the large U.S. Indo-Pacific Command based in Hawaii, and his party were welcomed by Medina with the officers and men of WESCOM and its operating units and Lt. General Antonio Ramon Lim, who represented Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Benjamin Madrigal.

Davidson’s visit is under the Philippine’s hosted Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SDB) meetings. a statement from WESCOM’s 6th Civil Relations Group-Civil Relations Service (6thCRG-CRS) sent Thursday said.

Medina said in the statement that WESCOM is committed to the U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty, claiming it is aware of the impacts and importance of the United States’ efforts to reinforce the AFP’s defense and security capabilities which foster sincerity and thrust to strengthen ground forces.

WESCOM Vice Adm. Rene Medina (4th from right) speaks with the contingent of Adm. Phil Davidson from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at their headquarters in Barangay San Miguel. Also in photo are 3rd MBDe commander Brig. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan (1st from right) and Naval Forces West commander Commodore Sean Anthony Villa (2nd from right). (Photo courtesy of WESCOM)

With the U.S. government’s generosity, Medina said WESCOM will soon be able to add the newly installed Command and Control (C2) Fusion Facilities in its inventory list of vital facilities.

Medina said he believes the long-standing friendship that thrives between the Philippines and the U.S. are deeply-rooted in their common goal to attain lasting peace and order within the scope of the area of concern and jurisdiction of both the Philippines and the US.

“The United States’ forces for that matter, really supported us in fighting terrorism and violent extremism in our country. In fact, I had the privilege in witnessing how effective your support in providing technical and surveillance assistance to Philippine troops during our battle against the Islamic State Maute group way back when I was the commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao,” the statement quoted Medina in saying.

The military cooperation among US and Philippines had helped WESCOM in many ways, said Medina, such as the establishment of bilateral cooperative agreements that benefited both countries.

Due to the bilateral agreements, WESCOM was able to jointly train with the United States Indo-Pacific Command counterpart and learned through exchanges of expertise.

The said Command had played a vital part in maintaining peace, stability, and security not only in the Philippines but also in vast regions where they are legally obliged to cooperate, the statement added.

“We, in Western Command had been keen on advancing initiatives to address security concerns, especially those that are mutually experienced by us. On our part, we are very thankful that our harmonious relationship with the United States in terms of military cooperation grows even stronger each year. We do hope that this cooperation and partnership will continue to grow in the years to come,” Medina was further quoted in saying.

On the other hand, Davidson said the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has always been Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines is not only a piece of paper without any value.

He said the U.S. government looks beyond was it written on the document as it symbolizes the friendship that was built between both countries even before World Wars 1 and 2.

He further stated that the United States Indo-Pacific Command is very clear and specific in its commitment to the implementation of the MDT.

Previously, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Philippines to talk to government officials about the MDT and other significant issues that would be mutually beneficial to both countries.