Philippines notes AUKUS assurances on preserving regional peace

2023 March 16

Department of Foreign Affairs office in Pasay City

MANILA – The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), on Thursday banked on the assurances that the AUKUS would help preserve regional peace as it noted the three-country grouping’s recently announced nuclear submarine project.

The agency did not reiterate its support for the grouping but said arrangements like AUKUS must “reinforce an international rules-based order that underpins regional security and development”. AUKUS is a 2021 trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, for the Indo-Pacific region.

“The Philippines appreciates the efforts of the AUKUS parties to provide information and developments on AUKUS, and in this regard, notes their recent announcement,” it said in a statement.

“As the Philippines remains committed to strengthening our existing bilateral security arrangements in the region, we particularly note the assurances made at the highest levels that AUKUS will contribute to the preservation of regional peace and stability,” it added.

AUKUS and similar partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, it said, should also uphold the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) central role in the “regional security architecture”.

“For the Philippines, it is important that partnerships or arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region, such as AUKUS, support our pursuit of deeper regional cooperation and sustained economic vitality and resilience, which are essential to our national development and to the security of the region,” it said.

The DFA then urged AUKUS to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that its activities observe the relevant international nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation standards.

Canberra unveiled on Tuesday a AUD368 billion project to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SNN) to “enhance deterrence and promote stability in the Indo-Pacific”.

The submarines would be designed based on the UK’s next-generation SNN while incorporating US technologies. It would be built and deployed by both Australia and the UK.

During the previous administration, former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said AUKUS “would be beneficial in the long term” including for ASEAN member states which “singly or collectively, do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia, discourage the sudden creation of crises therein, and avoid disproportionate and hasty responses by rival great powers.” 

Joyce Ann Rocamora